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Monarch Conservation and Justice in Mexico

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  1. The Mexican Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
  2. Conservation vs. Development.
  3. Environmental Justice and Biocentrism.
  4. Centralized Governance.
  5. Monetary Compensation.
  6. Ecotourism.
  7. Rezoning.
  8. Conclusion.

Monarch butterflies are among the most charismatic of endangered fauna. Because of not only their visual beauty but also their enchanting migrations, they have achieved striking popularity especially among Northern conservationists. While these migrations may be spectacular, they are also transnational?and this brings the conservation effort of the butterfly to the realm of international environmental cooperation. Each winter, the Monarch Butterfly populations of the eastern United States and Canada take flight destined for Michoacán, a forested region in central Mexico, where they spend the winter in the forests of oyamel fir trees. Though this process is not entirely understood, many scientists reason that this particular ecosystem is very well-suited to protecting the butterflies from freezing. This inevitable migration implicates the interests of the residents of Michoacán, who have traditionally used and sold the wood of the oyamel trees as part of their subsistence livelihoods.

[...] Environmental justice involves proportionate distribution of environmental risks, giving equal access to environmental goods like clean air, and giving equal voice to groups in environment-related decision-making.[xii] By the third part of this definition, the Mexican government's decision to declare regions of Michoacán conservation sites was not environmentally just because it did not involve the affected people in the political process. The way the MBBR was established reveals important aspects of the thought informing environmental policy at the time (and likely to this day). [...]


[...] A minor problem is the predictability of wildlife patterns; some research suggests that the butterflies' annual migration sites vary rather unpredictably, and the remapping is admittedly optimistic in its ability to forecast landing sites.[xxxi] But this scientific problem is not as important as the logistical one: more complex reserve boundaries will mean more uncertainty over which trees are off-limits, and greater costs of enforcement. Both of these problems can be mitigated however by the greater involvement of local populations in the drawing of reserve boundaries, which remains a priority. [...]


[...] ?Alleviating Poverty Through Ecotourism: Promises and Reality in the Monarch Butterfly Reserve of Mexico.? Environment, Development and Sustainability vol no. pp. 371-382 Bojorquez-Tapia et al. ?Mapping Expert Knowledge: Redesigning the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.? Conservation Biology, vol.17 n.2. Somerville, Keith. ?Tough Questions on Species Survival.? BBC News Online November < http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/2372903.stm> Solensky and Oberhauser. Monarch butterfly & conservation. Comstock Publication Associates, Cornell University Press 2004. p4 [iii] Garcia-Navarro, Lourdes. ?Living in the Shadow of a Million Butterflies.? National Public Radio online. [...]

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