Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (Mexico) (N 1290)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2008
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1290/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1290/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
January 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; January-February 2018: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Illegal activities - Illegal logging
- Land conversion - Agricultural encroachment
- Forest fires (issue resolved)
- Decline in the overwintering population of Monarch butterflies in the property
- Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation (tourism pressures associated with growth in visitor numbers and heavy concentration in specific areas)
- Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1290/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019
An IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property from 29 January to 3 February 2018. On 30 November 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. Subsequently, additional information was submitted on 21 February 2019. Both reports are available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1290/documents/ and provide the following information:
- Measures to prevent illegal logging within the property have continued with the ongoing support of the Environmental Gendarmerie;
- During the period between February 2017 and March 2018, 1.4 ha within the property were affected by illegal logging. However, the overall forest degradation decreased compared to the previous period in 2016-2017;
- Economic compensation, temporary employment and subsidy programmes for landowners have continued, with a total of over 88 million pesos invested in such programmes in 2008-2018;
- Regarding the proposed mining project within the buffer zone of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR), no updated information is provided. The State Party refers to the technical evaluation process undertaken by the National Commission for the Protection of Natural Areas (CONANP) and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), which had already been reported on in its 2017 report. The plans for reopening of the Angangueo mine continue to be discussed.
- Within the Trinational Working Group established by Canada, Mexico and the United States of America, a population target for Monarch butterflies was set for 2020, which corresponds to the number of individuals occupying 6 ha of overwintering habitat in Mexico. Cooperation in the fields of habitat conservation, research, monitoring and education is reported on;
- During the 2017-2018 season, 9 colonies of Monarch butterflies were registered, occupying 2.48 ha of forest area, with 5 colonies (1.50 ha) within and 4 colonies (0.98 ha) outside the property. This represents a 14.77% decrease compared to the 2016-2017 season (2.91 ha). However, as presented in the State Party’s additional information, during the 2018-2019 season, the area increased by 144% to 6.05 ha occupied by 8 colonies (4.98 ha) within the property and 6 colonies (1.07 ha) outside it. This represents the largest area occupied by overwintering Monarch butterflies since 2006-2007.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
The continued efforts by the State Party to prevent illegal logging within the property, as well as ongoing programmes aimed at creating economic opportunities for local and indigenous communities and landowners should be welcomed. As concluded by the 2018 mission, these efforts have resulted in significant progress in addressing threats facing the property and should be sustained in the longer term, including by providing sufficient resources to the agencies involved, such as the CONANP, the Federal Attorney’s Office for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) and the Environmental Gendarmerie.
It is also encouraging that the monitoring data from the latest overwintering season has shown an increase in the area occupied by overwintering colonies of Monarch butterflies within and outside the property compared to the previous season.
It is noted that no updated information is provided on the proposed mining project (Proyecto Angangueo) within the buffer zone of the MBBR, and that the State Party refers to the previously reported project evaluation undertaken by CONANP and SEMARNAT, which did not allow land use changes and therefore prevented the project from proceeding. While this means that de facto the project remains prohibited, the mission concluded that the situation remains vulnerable since plans for reopening the mine continued to be discussed. In addition, given that other mining concessions overlapped partially or completely with the MBBR, the mission recommended putting stronger provisions in place, particularly in relation to the current legislative measures and Management Programme. It is therefore recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to ensure that no mining activities are permitted within the property by clearly defining it as a no-go area for any mineral exploration and extraction, and by developing strict regulations for any mining activities within the buffer zone, in order to avoid any negative impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including its conditions of integrity, through revision of the Management Programme of the MBBR or other relevant legislative instruments, in collaboration with all relevant agencies and authorities.
It is also noted that the mission concluded that while actions aimed at combatting threats affecting Monarch butterfly colonies within their overwintering habitat in Mexico are highly important, the long-term conservation of the property’s OUV will also depend on the capacity to address threats throughout the entire migration route, including in Canada and the United States of America. While the continued trinational cooperation between the three States Parties is welcomed, it is recommended that the Committee request them to accelerate actions aimed at minimizing threats to the Monarch butterfly along its migration route, paying particular attention to the measures required to minimize the loss and to restore the range of native milkweed species in the United States of America.
Finally, noting that several colonies continue to be observed outside the property and given their susceptibility to other factors, including climate change, it is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to develop a proposal for an extension of the property in order to ensure that the majority of the areas occupied by overwintering colonies are properly protected and to increase the potential of the property to adapt to changing climatic conditions and associated changes in the distribution of overwintering colonies.
Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.27
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.16, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
- Welcomes the ongoing efforts by the State Party to address threats to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including illegal logging, and requests the State Party to ensure that these efforts are sustained, including through provision of the necessary resources to the agencies involved;
- Notes that no updated information has been provided by the State Party regarding the proposed Proyecto Angangueo mining project in the buffer zone and that, despite assurances that the project remains prohibited, continuing discussion on reopening the mine contributes to uncertainty, and therefore also requests the State Party to provide comprehensive, updated and unequivocal information on the current situation regarding mining concessions within the property and its buffer zone;
- Urges the State Party to implement the recommendation of the 2018 mission to ensure, in line with the Committee’s established position, that no mining activities are permitted within the property and by developing strict regulations for any mining activities within the buffer zone of the property to avoid negative impacts on the property’s OUV, through revision of the property’s Management Programme and other relevant legislative instruments;
- Also welcomes the ongoing trinational cooperation between the States Parties of Canada, Mexico and the United States of America, whilst emphasizing that the long-term conservation of the property’s OUV will depend on the capacity to address threats throughout the entire migration route of the Monarch butterfly, and further requests the three States Parties to accelerate actions aimed at minimizing threats to the Monarch butterfly migration route;
- Also notes that several colonies continue to be observed outside the property, and given their susceptibility to other factors, including climate change, encourages the State Party to consider developing a proposal for an extension of the property in order to ensure that the majority of the areas occupied by overwintering colonies are properly protected, and to increase the potential of the property to adapt to changing climatic conditions and associated changes in the distribution of overwintering colonies;
- Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2021.