English Français

Decision : 32 COM 8B.17
Examination of nomination of natural, mixed and cultural proprerties to the World Heritage List - Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MEXICO)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B2,

2. Inscribes the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, Mexico, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criterion (vii);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value;


The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve World Heritage property protects key overwintering sites for the monarch butterfly. The overwintering concentration of butterflies in the property is a superlative natural phenomenon. The millions of monarch butterflies that return to the property every year bend tree branches by their weight, fill the sky when they take flight, and make a sound like light rain with the beating of their wings. Witnessing this unique phenomenon is an exceptional experience of nature.

Criterion (vii): The overwintering concentration of the monarch butterfly in the property is the most dramatic manifestation of the phenomenon of insect migration. Up to a billion monarch butterflies return annually, from breeding areas as far away as Canada, to land in close-packed clusters within 14 overwintering colonies in the oyamel fir forests of central Mexico. The property protects 8 of these colonies and an estimated 70% of the total overwintering population of the monarch butterfly's eastern population.


The property includes more than half of the overwintering colonies of the monarch butterfly's eastern population. They provide a good sample of the areas that are essential for maintaining this superlative natural phenomenon. The maintenance of the standing forest and the microclimates that they create is the key management requirement, thus any threat to the forests is of utmost concern. Illegal logging is a known threat to the property with potential direct impacts on its Outstanding Universal Value. Public use has been increasing and the levels of visitation and infrastructure provided require careful control both in relation to impacts on the ecosystem and the quality of experience provided by the property to visitors. Due to its migratory nature, the maintenance of the overwintering phenomenon also requires attention to the conservation of the monarch butterfly by those countries through which it travels during its life cycle.

Requirements for Protection and Management

The principal focus of protection and management should be to prevent illegal logging in the property. Priorities to achieve this include concerted planning and action between all relevant federal, state and local agencies, and work with local communities on environmental protection and the provision of alternative livelihoods to logging. As the overwintering phenomenon is a significant attractor to visitors, management also needs to be directed to achieving sustainable public use of the property. This should respect the quality of the visitor experience and promote benefit-sharing mechanisms for local communities as an incentive to enhance their support to the conservation of the property. Continued investment in coordinated continent-wide management of the migratory phenomenon is a further important dimension of site management. Achieving all of these priorities requires the provision of adequate and sustained institutional and financial support.

4. Recommends the State Party to inform about existing programs being implemented in the property, reflecting the resources invested in management and conservation activities with emphasis on actions aiming to halt illegal logging and submit a report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2009. Particular attention should be given to:

  • a) continuing and strengthening the work with local communities on environmental protection and alternatives livelihoods to logging
  • b) exploring options for a major new investment in development and implementation of a coordinated plan to halt illegal logging involving all federal, state and local agencies;
  • c) developing and implementing, in the context of the 2007 Agreement of Collaboration between the Tourism Secretariat (SECTUR) and the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) on the Development of Nature-based Tourism, a detailed plan for sustainable public use of the nominated property and an effective benefit-sharing mechanism for local communities as an incentive to enhance their support on the conservation of the property.

5. Commends the State Party and its partners for their demonstrated commitment to, and active collaboration in, the conservation and management of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve;

6. Requests the State Party to invite a joint UNESCO / IUCN mission in 2010 to consider the State of conservation of the property and report to the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010 on the implementation of the above recommendations.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Mexico
Year: 2008
Decision Code: 32 COM 8B.17