Monarch butterfly
Monarch butterfly. Credit: William Warby

This summer, I visited the central mountain region of Mexico, where millions of monarch butterfly migrate to each winter. American Forests and La Cruz Habitat Protection Project have partnered to reforest this area for almost a decade, and in that period of time, together, we have planted more than 850,000 trees to help preserve the monarch’s winter home. While my visit took place during the summer months, which meant the butterflies weren’t in residence, I was very excited to see this valuable ecosystem and the successes we have made firsthand as I toured the region.

During my trip, I visited two monarch butterfly sanctuaries and learned how the people of these small mountain villages prepare to celebrate the arrival of these beautiful insects through art, music and festivals. I became fascinated by how much pride these local people have for the forests and how many of them, though incredibly impoverished by U.S. standards, donate their time, talent and resources to protect and defend these lands for very little monetary gain, if any. The monarch’s forest is under constant threat from illegal logging and invasive insects, but the people in these mountain communities defend it fiercely — much as they do their private land. They realize how important this habitat is for the butterflies and the economics of their own villages.

Because American Forests is so proud of the reforestation we helped fund in this region, we are organizing a private member tour in the region in February 2014. This tour will be open to all American Forests members, but will be capped off at just 26 participants. I look forward to sharing this experience with our membership, and I am sure it will be a magnificent, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!