The past year was filled with hope as efforts to aid monarchs continued to grow. Reports from Mexico estimated that the population was about three and a half times larger than the year before, boosting morale among conservationists and monarch enthusiasts. What happened next was unfortunate, but solidifies the need for expanded conservation efforts for this iconic butterfly.
A severe winter storm struck the overwintering colonies in Mexico just as the migration was beginning, and decimated a large portion of the population that remained there. Because the population was larger than it had been the previous winter, chances of recovery were greater than if such a storm had hit the colonies during the recent record low years. We are sincerely grateful to have a network of supporters like you to ensure we can keep monarchs and their habitats on the mend in the long term.
To increase the chances that monarchs will withstand future events like the severe winter storm of 2016, we must act now to boost monarch population numbers through science-supported conservation actions. Please consider donating to support the monarch migration this Giving Tuesday.
As you know, the Monarch Joint Venture is a leader in monarch conservation and is building on eight years of successful partnerships in this time of heightened national attention. We now have nearly 60 partner organizations, with 22 joining so far in 2016. This strong coalition of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, and businesses allows us to work on all scales to promote monarch conservation.
Each year, the MJV funds our partners to carry out monarch conservation initiatives, as outlined in our national Monarch Conservation Implementation Plan. Our areas of focus are described below, and projects we’ve supported since 2010 are summarized here. Our success is made possible by donors like you, and your contribution to our Monarch Conservation and Education Fund will directly benefit monarch conservation through strategic projects throughout the nation carried out by our partners.
As we work to help monarchs recover from the latest blow to their population, your donation is more important now than ever. From educational gardens to prairies that span hundreds of acres, monarchs need our help. We are restoring habitat, improving our understanding of the best ways to protect this charismatic butterfly, and increasing people’s awareness of how they can help.
- Creating habitat: Creating, enhancing, and maintaining habitat that includes milkweed and nectar plants is a vital part of our work to restore the monarch population—on farms, in communities, in gardens, along rights-of-way, and other areas. To help support the growing demand for native plants, we also prioritize the need for building the commercial availability of native milkweeds and nectar plants.
- Raising awareness through education: Education drives action. We are building a well-informed network of partners who can enact science-based conservation actions on all scales. From conservation professionals to industry to citizen scientist volunteers and the general public, this network continues to expand. We support and perform train-the-trainer education, and communicate monarch conservation needs across the country through our partnership and beyond.
- Cutting-edge research: As a science-based partnership, the MJV taps into the expertise of our partners. We support research that informs monarch conservation efforts, including studies of effective milkweed seed production and the potential impacts of year round milkweed breeding habitat in the southern U.S. We spread our research far and wide, and ensure that our findings are easily accessible. In 2016, we added a Science Coordinator to our team to help drive cutting-edge research and connect existing monarch conservation efforts with the best available science to improve their projects.
Thank you for your continued support, and all you do for monarchs.
The Monarch Joint Venture is a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration. The content in this article does not necessarily reflect the positions of all Monarch Joint Venture partners. Photos by Wendy Caldwell.