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Monarch Fund: saving the Monarch Butterfly

Fondo Monarca
Published: 18 September 2018
Last edited: 01 April 2019
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The Monarch Fund (MF) is a conservation strategy based on economic incentives for forest owners in the core area of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR). It began with payments for the transfer of forest use rights acquired prior to the publication of the Reserve's decree on November 10, 2000. The payments for forest use rights ended in 2008, which allowed the transition to a Payment for Environmental Services (PES) scheme based on the area conserved, increasing the amount with National Forestry Commission (Conafor) contributions. 


The MF was created as an endowment fund within the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (FMCN) with a contribution of US$7.5 million, this endowment generates annual interests that are transferred yearly to a trust. Annually, the Technical Committee of the trust identifies the land that has not been deforested and grants payments to 34 communities.    



North America
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Temperate evergreen forest
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Ecosystem services
Indigenous people
Sustainable financing
Land and Forest degradation
Climate Challenges (Hazards)
Loss of Biodiversity
Ecosystem loss
Ecological Challenges
Lack of access to long-term funding
Economic Challenges
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Social Challenges
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Sendai Framework
Target 5: Increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020


Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, México, Estado de Mexico y Michoacan.
Show on Protected Planet


Scientific studies have shown that half of the best conserved forest cover in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) was degraded during the 1971-1999 period, mainly by illegal logging. For this reason, it was suggested to the Mexican government to expand the core zone of the Reserve and to create contiguous protected areas to ensure the protection of the current and potential habitat of the monarch butterfly and other species, and the supply of water to communities.  


The decree of the new MBBR in year 2000, meant that the forest harvesting in the core zone of the reserve was terminated and not allowed in the future, so it was necessary to design a permanent financial mechanism, the Monarch Fund, that would adequately cover the economic interests of the owners of the forests located in the core zone, encouraging them to maintain the forests in a good state of conservation and comply with the provisions established in the MBBR Management Program.






34 ejidos, indigenous communities and private land owners participating in the Monarch Fund.

How do the building blocks interact?

There is a clear institutional framework that facilitates the operation of the Monarch Fund in the field.


FM is part of FMCN´s Fund for Natural Protected Areas (FANP), a public-private initiative between FMCN, the Government of Mexico and the World Bank. The FANP consists of endowment resources, whose interests are channeled to 30 priority natural protected areas in the country.


FANP has a Technical Committee of the FANP (CTFANP) that oversees its operation, including the FM. This Committee is composed of seven members from different sectors, who are appointed by the National Council of Natural Protected Areas and ratified by the FMCN Board of Directors.


Another component of the FM is the Monarch Fund Trust Technical Committee (CTFMM), which approves annual payments to ejidos and communities that have complied with forest cover conservation in core areas. Six representatives of ejidos, indigenous communities and private landowners participate in the CTFMM.


1. The Monarch Fund (MF) sets a precedent in Mexico for being the first endowment fund whose interests directly support land owners of a federally natural protected area in the long term.


2. Long-term institutional arrangements give communities confidence and transparency in the use of resources. These two elements are essential in reducing forest degradation and deforestation. In addition, having an endowment fund has made possible to secure additional resources from Conafor for a period of 18 years (2009 - 2026).


3.With matching funds, forest owners receive 683 Mexican pesos per hectare for 18 years.


4. The impact of illegal logging on hibernating habitat in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) has decreased significantly.  This achievement is the result of a coordinated effort of the federal environmental authority, the governments of the states of Mexico and Michoacan, FMCN, WWF, ejidos (agricultural and forestry properties for collective use), indigenous communities and private land owners.


5.The analysis of aerial photographs and satellite images show that between 2003 and 2009 there was a recovery of 722 hectares of forest in core area of the MBBR.


6. In 17 years the total investment of the MF has reached about 54.8 million Mexican pesos to ejidos, indigenous communities and private properties.




Fondo Monarca

A complex combination of threats has contributed to the deterioration of the Monarch Butterfly migration phenomenon over the years. However, trilateral scientific meetings indicate that the main threats to the Monarch Butterfly in North America are:


  1. Impact of glyphosate use on the host plant of the monarch butterfly and its effect on the decline of the population of the butterfly.
  2. Impact of illegal logging on hibernating habitat in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
  3. Impact of adverse weather conditions and climate change.



Of the threats identified by experts, the impact of illegal logging on hibernating habitat in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) has decreased significantly. This is shown in the results of annual monitoring of coverage change in the core areas of the MBBR under Monarch Fund (MF).


This achievement has been the result of the coordinated work of the federal environmental authority in Mexico, the governments of the states of Mexico and Michoacan, FMCN, WWF and the ejidos (agricultural and forestry properties for collective use), indigenous communities and owners of the core zones that supported the establishment of the Monarch Fund and leveraging Concurrent Funds to double the payment per hectare conserved in the core zones of the MBBR.


Scientific data reveal that the MF has been successful in reducing degradation and deforestation rates in the GMR. Honey-Roses et al (2011) found evidence that the combination of legal protection of the area (natural protected area decree) and financial incentives provided by the MF have supported the conservation of the Monarch Butterfly's wintering forests. These authors estimate that, although 9% of the areas with logging bans have been deforested since 1993 and 15% of dense forests have disappeared, the loss would have reached an additional 3% and 11%, respectively, without the existence of these protection instruments and incentives. The study makes a detailed comparison with the dynamics observed in surrounding areas that do not have these tools.


These results are a strong indication that financial mechanisms in support of conservation, coordinated with the work of many institutions pursuing the same objective, are an essential part of the formula for reducing deforestation.


The FM sets a precedent in Mexico for being the first endowment fund whose interests directly support the owners of a federal protected natural area in the long term.

Contributed by

Eligio García Serrano

Other contributors

Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature A.C
Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature A.C