The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is a conservation area and World Heritage Site within the wintering grounds of most of the monarch butterflies that migrate from east of the Rocky Mountains for up to 4,000 km south to central Mexico. The reserve is located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests ecoregion on the border of Michoacán and Mexico State, 100 km (62 milles), northwest of Mexico City. It is estimated that between 60 million and 1 billion butterflies arrive in this area alone any given year. While over 56,000 hectares are part of the biosphere reserve, the butterflies themselves only inhabit a fraction of this when they are in Mexico from October to March. The biosphere’s mission is not only to protect the butterfly species, but also to protect the ecosystem of which it is a part.
This area, which hosts the majority of wintering monarchs from the east of the United States and Canada, has only been known to scientists since the 1970s. Protection of the area began with a series of presidential decrees in the 1980s, and a 2000 decree promoted the area to the status of federal biosphere reserve. In 2008, the Reserve was inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites. Although the montane site remains predominantly rural, a number of conservationists are concerned about the deleterious effects of illegal logging, growing tourism, and tensions between conservation authorities and communities inhabiting the land upon which the Reserve was established
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