For almost 20 years, La Cruz —together with its partners—has helped to restore the mixed pine-oyamel forest within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
Forests for Monarchs supports the production, distribution and planting of native tree seedlings.
Restoring forest in and around the monarch butterfly over-wintering habitat is a crucial step in helping to secure the long-term survival of the monarch butterfly and its unique migration. The reforested lands also help restore the health of the environment and increase the well-being of the local people. Small and communal land-owning entities and indigenous communities are the recipients of our trees and are also important beneficiaries. Pressure on the forest is high, since most families living in these mountains use wood for daily household activities such as cooking and heating their homes; the native timber is also used as building materials, an important source of income.
Forests for Monarchs’ strategy has always been to offer the local population an alternative access to wood for their daily needs, thus easing the dependence on wood from the core of the Monarch Biosphere Reserve. Through sustainable forest management, participants are developing economic and environmental stability. This strategy is successful because it addresses the financial and practical needs of the people, while it protects monarch habitat. Our trees improve the soil quality, safeguard water resources and reduce siltation in lakes and streams, and they benefit the planet by sequestering carbon.
Through our program, we produce high-quality tree seedlings at a nursery owned by a private individual, José Luis Alvarez Alcalá, in Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán, and he then provides the seedlings to individuals and communities for reforestation of land in the municipalities that buffer the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
Many of the participants are subsistence farmers who own small plots of land, communal land owners, or officially recognized Indigenous Communities. Other participants and volunteers are residents of local communities who donate their efforts to reforest land they do not own, through altruistic conservation interests. The preparation for the planting season begins 17 months in advance, through our partnership with the Mexican program known as The Cruz Habitat Protection Project.
The Key Activities
Throughout the year, we establish community and landowner contacts to identify new planting partners. We provide technical assistance to participants of ongoing reforestation and management projects, including planting methods, pruning, thinning, pest control, and sustainable harvesting. We conduct outreach in local schools and community organizations.
The seedling production begins during the Spring of the year before planting with the preparation of composting materials for seedling medium. This requires one full year to complete.
Between the early summer and early fall of the year before planting, local participants help to collect seed cones from the region where the seedlings will be planted the following summer. Cleaning, processing, and storage of seeds take at least a couple of months.
Each year in September and October, locally-collected seeds of native trees are planted in cavity trays (copper block system) filled with a composted soil medium. Successful seed germination requires constant care. Thus, watering, weeding, and care of the seedlings continues until they are planted the following June, July, and August.
Once the rainy season begins (June of next year) and there is sufficient soil moisture, the seedlings are packed into bundles of twenty-five, transported to planting sites, and distributed free of charge to local participants. We provide final verbal instructions as well as printed planting guides to participants. In some cases, reforestation campaigns are conducted with the help of hundreds of volunteers.