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Posted Sat Nov 27 2010: from AP, via PhysOrg:
Reserve saves trees but not monarch butterflies
This small patch of mountain fir forest is a model of sorts for the global effort to save trees and fight climate change. The problem is that saving trees has not saved the forest's most famous visitors: Monarch butterflies. Millions of Monarch butterflies migrate here from the United States and Canada every year, but their numbers declined by 75 percent last year alone, apparently because of changing weather and vegetation patterns. The Monarch butterfly reserve shows how complex the battle against climate change has become, as the world prepares for a United Nations climate conference in Cancun next week. The conference is expected to focus in part on how best to preserve forests, with questions about who should pay and and how to treat communities who already live in the jungles and forests of developing countries.... While the Monarch Butterfly Reserve is a success story, trees alone won't keep it going. If the butterflies disappear - and by all accounts they are doing badly - interest in the forest could quickly evaporate. The REDD program has been improved to take into account the importance of biodiversity in forests. While experts aren't really sure what has been battering the butterflies, changing weather patterns are clearly taking a toll. Last year, clusters of butterflies covered a total area equal to only about 1.9 hectares (4.7 acres), compared to about 8 hectares (almost 20 acres) in the 2008-2009 winter season. Experts say it is still too soon to estimate figures on this year's migration. Monarch expert Lincoln Brower cites climate swings of wet and dry weather, storms that damaged the reserve, and the crowding out of the only plant the Monarchs lay their eggs on, the milkweed, by genetically-modified crops.
[Read more stories about: climate impacts, species restoration, forests]

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'Doc Jim says:
Without a Monarch, what will happen to the kingdom?

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