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Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
Site number:
Type of site: Natural
Date: -
Date of Inscription: 2008
Location: North America, Mexico, state of Michoacán, 100 km northwest of Mexico City
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Description: Surrounded by harsh forested mountains about 100 km northwest of Mexico City is the 56,259 ha Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Every autumn, millions, perhaps even a billion, butterflies come back to the site from wide areas of North America, here they crowd together in small regions of the forest reserve, colouring the trees orange and with their collective weight literally bending the tree branches underneath them. When spring arrives, these butterflies embark on an 8 month migration all the way to Eastern Canada and back; during this passage four successive generations are born and die. It remains a mystery of how they know their way back to their overwintering site. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  The Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve is located mostly in the eastern part of the state of Michoacán with some being in the western part of the State of Mexico in the central Mexican highlands. The Reserve was created to protect the wintering habitat of the monarch butterfly and contains over 56,000 hectares of land.As of the winter of 2007-2008, there were twelve major colonies or sanctuaries of monarch butterflies covering a total of 4.72 hectares of land wintering in Mexico, same as the winter before and up from the seven that existed in winter 2004-2005. Eight of these twelve are within the Biosphere. Four of these eight are open to the public. These are: Sierra Chincua - near the towns of Tlalpujahua and Angangueo in Michoacán. La Mesa - near San José del Rincón in the State of Mexico. El Capulín - near Donato Guerra and San Juan Soconusco in the State of Mexico. El Rosario - near Ocampo in Michoacán. Other sanctuaries such as those near San José Villa de Allende and Ixtapan del Oro are not actively promoted for tourism because of the risk of harm to these butterfly colonies.While the Biosphere still has problems with infrastructure, most notably with trash esp. around parking and merchant areas, a number of improvements have been recently made, esp. in the sanctuary of El Rosario. These include well-defined footpaths with security patrols and stone/or concrete steps in steep places to help against erosion. Horsepaths were also eliminated for erosion reasons.During winter 2008-2009, there are plans to tag as many of the wintering butterflies as possible using very light self-stick tracers as to not impede their flight. The purpose of this is to determine the butterflies exact migration route as they fly back north to the U.S. and Canada in the spring. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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