Helping Monarchs Reign

The 100 million to 140 million monarch butterflies that migrate some 2,500 miles to their winter home in the Mexican states of Mexico and Michoacan have received some needed protection from President Vicente Fox.

With the help of a $6.1 million trust set up by the government and private foundations, local residents will be paid to stop cutting trees in Mexico's threatened Oyamel fir forests - trees the butterflies need for sanctuary.

The move, in part, reflects the recent historic change of government in Mexico, Mr. Fox's business-oriented approach, and the value of public-private partnerships. Such cooperation would have been unheard of under the former ruling party, the PRI. Even so, Fox will have to work to gain environmental credibility for the plan.

Since 1986, when the government set aside some 30,000 acres for protection, it has been calling the monarch the "heritage of humanity." But for the past 17 years, logging has continued largely unabated, in fact accelerated, in monarch sanctuaries.

Some 40 percent of monarch forests have been lost in recent years. This program should help put a stop to that. Getting other jobs for the loggers and encouraging ecotourism also will do much to help the people and the butterflies live together.

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