Over the course of two days in June, monarch conservation experts, scientists, agency leaders, and policymakers convened in Washington D.C. for the first-ever Monarch Butterfly Summit co-hosted by the U.S. Department of the Interior and Senator Jeff Merkley (OR). The summit’s purpose was to bring together key stakeholders, share the latest science and conservation focusing on the western monarch population, and determine priority short-term actions to accelerate monarch conservation.
The summit’s focus on supporting existing large-scale, collaborative conservation efforts aligns with the “all hands on deck” approach required for the task at hand, and reflects the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) mission since its founding in 2008: to conserve monarchs and their migration through partnership.
Monarch Joint Venture Executive Director Wendy Caldwell presented at the summit; her talk, “Mobilizing Partnerships for Western Monarch Conservation” shared the MJV’s history and joint venture model as a framework for collaboration across the U.S. With founding principles of voluntary participation, enacting community goals, and providing national coordination and support, MJV’s partnership network successfully implements habitat conservation, community and professional science, education, outreach, and other priority initiatives across sectors and geographic scales.
“We are excited for the momentum of this summit to help grow and strengthen these partnerships for the benefit of national monarch conservation efforts,” Wendy says. “We appreciate the commitment, leadership, and investment of the Department of the Interior, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Senator Jeff Merkley, and participating stakeholders. These partnerships represent a solid foundation for pollinator conservation, and at the same time there is urgency and opportunity to strengthen and expand our efforts.”
The summit concluded with renewed commitment to protect western monarchs, and two major announcements:
- The Department of the Interior will award $1 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Monarch Butterfly and Pollinators Conservation Fund. This public-private partnership program will focus on the western monarch butterfly by improving the availability of high-quality habitat; increasing the capacity needed to expand conservation efforts into the future; and supporting the implementation of technical assistance to engage private landowners with pollinator conservation practices on working lands.
- The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will establish a Pollinator Conservation Center to address the decline of pollinators, including monarch butterflies. The Center, funded through annual appropriations, will be a hub for improving the direct conservation actions that can reverse population trends.
But the “all hands on deck” approach really means everyone, not just the bigger institutions. Partners from across sectors, community-based organizations, and individuals have a valuable role in monarch conservation. “Community-scale partners are a powerful force for putting priority actions on the ground for monarchs and other pollinators across the U.S.,” Wendy says. “We are thrilled to see this kind of leadership from our federal and state agencies and political leaders to help mobilize and strengthen a network of partners, large and small, across the nation to help us restore monarch populations to sustainable levels.”
The gathering and its immediate outcomes and investments are timely and support the momentum of partnership-powered conservation. Take a moment to appreciate the power of partnership…then let’s get back to work!
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