Scientists Want To Save The Monarch Butterfly From Extinction By Moving A Forest Because Of Climate Change
Every winter countless tourists head on over to Piedra Herrada Sanctuary in Mexico to witness a breathtaking experience that doesn’t happen anywhere else. They are there to see the migration of the monarch butterfly that is a remarkable part of life itself. Seeing these little creatures fly around Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and soon it could be gone forever.
Environmentalists fear that because of climate change and other factors, the monarch butterfly could become extinct.
The butterflies’ 3,000-mile migration begins in November in Mexico. The butterflies make their way north through the U.S. and then to Canada in mid-March. Between the fall and winter season is when they return to Mexico once again for their yearly trip bringing with them a spectacular scene.
“In the early days, we didn’t know where they came from,” 75-year-old Francisco Ramirez Cruz told the Los Angeles Times. Cruz has lived near the reserve and has experienced the migration since he was a little boy. “But we have always been so happy to see them.”
He said there’s a variety of reasons why the monarch butterfly migration may soon come to an end. According to the Los Angeles Times, he said the monarch population is dwindling quickly due to “logging, herbicides and other human activities destroying natural habitats.” However, the most significant factor is climate change. The butterflies make their way to this particular forest, but if climate change brings drought, warm weather, and severe storms, the woods may lose its oyamel fir trees.
Scientists and researchers are trying to move the entire forest to a higher elevation to save the trees and have a place for the butterflies to come home to.
According to Scientific American, moving a natural habitat is one they rarely consider because it can be extremely damaging, but they say in the case of oyamel fir trees they are considering it because they have nothing left to lose.
This drastic measure would mean not just moving trees to a higher elevation — 1,000 feet up a mountain — but also plant new trees.
“Researchers were able to shift more than 750 seedlings up a mountainside by up to 400 meters, as long as they planted the young trees under the shade of neighboring bushes,” the Scientific American explains. “This protected the seedlings from sunlight and extreme temperatures.”
Chip Taylor, a retired ecology professor in Kansas and the director of Monarch Watch, told the Los Angeles Times that by planting new trees and relocating the forest, this could give researchers time to figure out their next move.
“What these measures do is give us time to address climate change,” Taylor told the publication. “If we don’t do something eventually about CO2s, eventually the new trees will be pushed off the mountain too.”