Butterflies and their People: Rethinking Monarch Conservation
with Dr. Ellen Sharp, Director, Butterflies and Their People Project, Cerro Pelon Butterfly Reserve, Mexico
(Monday, 4 April 2015/Ostrove Auditorium/7pm)
When scientists confirmed that the monarch butterflies that left Canada every fall were the same ones that overwintered by the millions on a few acres of Mexico’s Sierra Madres, international conservation efforts quickly turned these communally-owned lands into a protected biosphere reserve.Logging, the primary source of income for forest-dwelling peasants in the area, was criminalized overnight. In the years since, alternative economic development projects have for the most part failed to take hold in these hardscrabble rural communities. The current development model relies upon paying locals an annual “financial incentive” to prevent logging. Nonetheless, logging continues unabated. The thinning of the forest canopy makes monarch colonies vulnerable to inclement weather. In this talk, I propose an alternative to the “payment for ecosystem services” model of forest conservation: the employment of full-time rangers. Then I discuss the widespread institutional resistance to replacing one-time payments with meaningful work.