by David Simmonds
Millions of Monarch butterflies migrate from the eastern United States and Canada in the fall every year to the top a mountain forest south of Mexico City in the state of Michoacán. They have been making the trip for 10,000 years. It is truly an amazing sight and an even more amazing journey. Read the fine article by Ron Mader about this and how to visit the area here: http://www.planeta.com/ecotravel/mexico/monarchs.html.
This forest of migration has been protected by the Mexican federal government for years, but apparently some logging interests have had other ideas. Using images taken from a commercial satellite, scientists have proof that the forests have been clear-cut in many areas of the reserve over a long period of time, jeopardizing the entire migration pattern. Apparently, Monarchs do not like, nor can they survive in, a forest with no trees. Some would call that a desert, which is what this area will become one day if the loggers aren’t stopped. Please read the more scientific explanation and see the images here http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=17943.
To his credit, President Calderon has earmarked $4.6 million to help curb the logging and preserve the reserve, which seems to be paying dividends according to some published reports. Mexico Premiere encourages the president to keep a diligent eye on the situation with increased patrols and stiff penalties for law-breakers.