MEXICO CITY – Researchers, officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations from Canada, Mexico and the United States are meeting in Mexico City to discuss a joint strategy for protecting monarch butterflies and their hibernation habitat.
The conference, which ends on Friday, is aimed at “setting the communications priorities that will help identify allies in the three countries to participate in regional, national and continental networks, facilitate dialogue among different sectors and create synergies for cooperation,” the Mexican government said in a statement.
The reduction in the population of monarch butterflies, which winter in Mexico’s forests after a journey of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) across Canada and the United States, is due to the use of herbicides, changes in land use and extreme climate conditions.
The leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States agreed at their February 2014 summit in the Mexican city of Toluca to protect the butterflies and their migration route.
Since 2000, Mexico has focused on protecting the butterflies’ hibernation areas by expanding protected areas, creating a trust and monitoring forests.
Monarch butterflies (danaus plexippus) begin their migration each year in early October, flying from southern Canada across the United States and arriving in their Mexican winter homes around the second week of November.
The butterflies stay in Mexico for about five months, reproducing and then beginning the return trip north in March.
A study released in August 2015 found that illegal logging in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, located in central Mexico, increased 284.2 percent during the 2014-2015 period, compared to the prior period.
The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve draws about 200,000 visitors annually.