Using an organic fertilizer, a conservationist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), leads an award-winning project to reforest the sanctuary of monarch butterflies. Sharon Reich reports.
It's one of the insect world's most fantastic feats - the mass migration of monarch butterflies to their winter home in Mexico. The 3,000-mile journey begins in Canada and takes the butterflies into this fir tree lined forest, where conservationists are getting ready for their arrival. Nazario Archundia and others are scattering a newly developed organic fertilizer they say is ideal for the butterflies. The land here has been polluted he says, due to the overuse of chemical fertilizers. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LOCAL COMMUNITY MEMBER NAZARIO ARCHUNDIA, SAYING: "Research has shown they damage the land's fertility, causing erosion that is making people sick and harming the environment." Dr. Pablo Jaramillo, of Ecosystems Research, developed the organic fertilizer to protect the winged creatures and also to help renew the forest. The compound is made of a mixture of cow manure, harvest stumps, powdered brown sugar, inoculated yeast and micro-organisms that favor decomposition. Jaramillo explains that the fertilizer has just the right pH balance to benefit the trees and the butterflies. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PABLO JARAMILLO FROM THE ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH CENTRE (CIECO) AT THE NATIONAL AUTONOMOUS UNIVERSITY OF MEXICO (UNAM), SAYING: "As soon as we used this fertilizer, we started to recover the biodiversity of the land and we started to encourage a new cycle of nutriments to become available." Fertilizer alone isn't enough. He says ensuring the viability of communities and ecosystems surrounding these forests, requires the help of locals. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PABLO JARAMILLO FROM THE ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH CENTRE (CIECO) AT THE NATIONAL AUTONOMOUS UNIVERSITY OF MEXICO (UNAM), SAYING: "You kill two birds with one stone. Abandoned plots of land that were once used for agricultural purposes may be reforested and pressure is reduced in the central area where monarch butterflies arrive. Since the project started, more than 30 hectares of forest have already begun regenerating monarch habitat. Jaramillo's being recognized for his efforts by receiving the 2014 Pollinator Advocate Award for Mexico later this month.