Monarch butterfly. Credit: Henry McLin
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About Forests for Monarchs:

American Forests and the La Cruz Habitat Protection Project are reforesting more than 200 acres within and near the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and the watersheds of Lakes Pátzuaro and Zirahuèn, in Michoacán, Mexico, with oyamel fir, white cedar and other trees to provide critical winter habitat for migrating monarch butterflies.

Global ReLeaf provides forests like this — and the communities that depend on them — with the restoration they need to thrive. Since 1990, American Forests has brought ReLeaf to forests in all 50 states and 45 countries, planting more than 45 million trees in the process.

ReLeaf Location:

Michoacán, Mexico

Key ReLeaf Activities:

  • Planting 55,000 trees across 122 acres
  • Restoring wintering habitat for monarch butterflies

Why This ReLeaf Project?

Each year, monarchs make the same 2,500-mile southern migration to their winter habitat in Mexico despite having never been there. But we may never have a chance to learn how they do it as the monarch population is declining due to illegal logging, climate change and pesticide use.

Since 2006, American Forests has partnered with La Cruz Habitat Protection Project to ensure that monarchs migrating to Michoacán have healthy habitat to winter in. In addition to planting activities, this project is working with local people, planting trees on their lands, training them in managing these forests and providing environmental education in schools.

Why Michoacán?

The depletion of farmland and forests in Michoacán has also impacted the economies of local rural communities. Illicit timber harvests — often conducted by criminal organizations — along with wildfires and pine bark beetle infestations, are further exacerbating the depletion of forest resources. Additionally, many of these local communities in and around Michoacán have also come to rely on the ecotourism that monarch butterflies bring to their region.

"The monarch butterfly is an integral part of the Michoacán community, " says Dr. Sue Sill, executive director of Forests for Monarchs. "For 15 years, we’ve been working with the local families and communities to restore the forests that are depended upon by both monarchs and people and to curb the deforestation that was once rampant with little reforestation. "

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