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Illegal Logging Within the Monarch Sanctuaries by Chip Taylor
Last months update led off with coverage of illegal logging at Sierra Chincua, typically the site of approximately 30% of the monarchs that overwinter in Mexico each year. This months update contains translations of a number of articles that are relevant to this issue and references to others including an article in the New York Times and a report from the World Wildlife Fund Mexico on the illegal logging from 2001-2004. I have added some annotations here and there to give you an idea of my perspective on the facts, ideas, attitudes, and omissions in these articles. In addition, I have included some speculation about the international dynamics that may be contributing to the deforestation in Mexico. As usual, Ive included a few thoughts on what seems to be needed to reduce illegal logging within the Biosphere Reserve.
Over the last two months I have had a number of conversations with various authorities and colleagues about the illegal logging in Mexico, specifically, its causes and the possible solutions. From these conversations, as well as reading about Mexico, I have learned that: 1) the Mexican economy is suffering from its inability to compete with China
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2) as a result of lower revenues the government has reduced funding for all agencies charged with protecting natural resources; 3) the price of lumber in Mexico has increased rapidly perhaps as a result of increased demand for softwood lumber due to the growth of the Chinese economy; 4) the number of underemployed men in the rural communities in the monarch reserve is substantial; 5) resentments persist concerning Presidential decrees which effectively define what landowners cannot do with their forests in the sanctuaries; 6) members of some ejidos protect their trees with barriers to trucks, while others camp in the forests to protect them from loggers; 7) there is a long lag time before protests about illegal logging lead to an effective crackdown by authorities; 8) although government actions may strike outsiders as too little too late, the Fox government is the first to crack down on illegal logging; 9) even though the program to compensate ejidos for not cutting their trees, administered by WWFMX, is making progress, it is under-funded and understaffed such that the payments to protect the trees are not sufficient to give the living trees enough value in this inflated market to protect them from the sawmill; and 10) there are cultural factors, attitudes, and aspects of state and federal government infrastructure that have a role in both the deforestation and how it is dealt with. I wont comment in depth on each of these points but will touch on some of them.
The Mexico-Chile-China connection
In case you havent noticed, China has become a dominant force in international trade. China, with a population of over 1 billion, has the fastest growing large-scale economy in the world. Because of its ability to produce high quality goods at low cost, China has become the source of a diverse array of clothing, shoes and other manufactured goods for the rest of the world. Money is flowing into China and the income from this trade has allowed China to undertake one of the most ambitious programs in the history of the world to improve its infrastructure and standard of living for its people. As the standard of living in China has increased, consumerism has as well, resulting in a demand for commodities that can radically alter the cost of goods on the world market. Soybeans are a good example. Soy products are used extensively in Chinese households and processed animal feed and China recently began purchasing large quantities of soybeans on the world market. In early 2002, the price to the U.S. farmer per bushel of soybeans was $4.00. In early 2004, the price was $9.50, an all time high. Partly in anticipation and partly in response to this increase in price, large acreages of cropland have been converted to soybeans in several countries, sometimes with unfortunate results:
To improve infrastructure, the Chinese are currently working on the worlds largest hydroelectric project, the Three Gorges Dam
In addition, large numbers of skyscrapers, many massive in their proportions, are being built in numerous Chinese cities. These enterprises require raw materials, some of which have to be obtained from outside China. Buildings require metal and China has recycled every bit of scrap and underutilized metal within the country to build these structures and to produce appliances and other products. When domestic metals became scarce, China began to buy metals on the world market. Chinas metal purchases are now dominating this market and driving up the price as it endeavors to purchase the materials needed to sustain its ambitious development projects
The same pattern extends to the market for soft wood logs and lumber (pines and firs) and hardwoods. In 2002, China was the third leading importer of softwood logs and the leading importer of hardwood logs
The Chinese demand for these products has increased each year and, as with scrap metal and soybeans, this increased demand appears to be driving up the price. The China connection to the deforestation in Mexico is thought to work this way: China is aggressively buying up much of the softwood logs or lumber available on the world market, particularly from Chile, a previous source of relatively cheap lumber for Mexico. As recently as 2002, Mexico ranked 7th as an importer of softwood logs and lumber. If Mexico is being priced out of the international market, lumber would be in short supply in Mexico and it would explain the rapid increase in the price of this commodity. Higher prices for lumber might explain the upsurge in illegal logging in Mexico, with activity in at least 10 states scattered throughout the country as well as the Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán. This explanation is conjecture at the moment, since I havent been able to find up-to-date information on Mexican imports of softwood logs and lumber for the past two years. Nevertheless, this scenario seems plausible and appears to be the explanation favored by some Mexican authorities.
Illegal logging and enforcement by the Fox administration.
Whatever the cause of the increase in the price of lumber in Mexico, the recent increase in potential profits appears to have led businessmen and loggers to work to together to make a quick killing by raiding forests on private and federal lands. During previous administrations illegal logging, usually on a relatively small scale, was seldom stopped by local, state, or federal authorities. With the Fox administration, the loggers and sawmill owners are taking a risk of having their equipment impounded and being placed in jail. Clashes with local residents and authorities appear to have become more common - 100 saw mills have been shut down and more than 150 people have been arrested. Whether this level of interdiction will be sufficient to slow down illegal logging remains to be seen but these efforts are clearly a move in the right direction. The slow response by the Fox administration to address the concerns of its citizens is another issue. More than two months passed from the beginning of the logging at Chincua (followed quickly by numerous complaints by citizens and highly visible media coverage) to attempts by the government to shut down these operations. While this seems like a slow response, the reality is that most governments would react similarly under these conditions. Even so, a lag in response time could be seen as an opportunity for hit and run logging and could be exploited by loggers. Given this scenario, the government needs to have a continuous presence in the most sensitive areas but this is costly and given the current strains on the Mexican economy it is unlikely that a government presence in the Biosphere Reserve can be sustained continuously. A possible solution is three, or perhaps four, permanent check points along the main roads that provide access to the area containing Chincua and El Rosario. But, this too would take a lot of money, vigilance and administrative oversight.
Given the current economy in Mexico and the reduction in resources the government appears to have available to deal with illegal logging, one solution might be to increase international aid. Specifically, aid to improve the local economies near the monarch sanctuaries while promoting protection of the forest through incentive programs that foster maintenance of the forest, reforestation, greater assistance to communities who wish to protect their forests, and enforcement of the regulations governing logging. Clearly, something needs to be done and soon. The articles last month and below track the recent logging, the protests, and the government crackdown using the army and PROFEPA. One could get the impression from these accounts that the current episode of illegal logging has ended. Perhaps it has; however, the last three reports in this series indicate the army has stepped up its operations and arrests in the monarch sanctuaries - one report weve received indicated that trucks loaded with logs were still being seen in the protected area.
The following section contains a series of translations of articles that have appeared in various Mexican publications since the last update. Carol Cullar, Executive Director Rio Bravo Nature Center Foundation, Inc., Eagle Pass TX has kindly provided these translations to allow us all the keep up with events in Mexico.
Army Goes against illegal loggers
By Adán García Mural
May 22, 2004
Michoacán: They arm operations in order to weaken the illegal logging in Michoacán in 100 days
MORELIA. - Troops of the Mexican Army began to patrol the forests of Michoacán, in support of the fight against illegal logging.
The military incursion was confirmed yesterday by Governor Lazarus Cárdenas Batel, who said that with this method will be sought to discourage the illegal traffic of lumber.
"The operations of the Army are designed in a manner that discourages the illegal activity, so that we can hit just the illegal consumption of lumber", explained the Agent.
Interviewed yesterday, Cárdenas Batel reported that the entrance of the Army forms part of a strategy that seeks within 100 days to weaken the illegal loggers.
"They have been basically operations against the centers of stacking [stockpiling] and illegal conversion of lumber; there have not been operations where the police force entered the forests to pursue one or two persons that are devastating the mountains", he said.
"With this we discourage the illegal acquisition of lumber, or at least reduce the possibility that there can be clashes that go out of control".
The Mexican Army has not seen combat with illegal loggers in Michoacán since June of the 2002, when they were confronted with bullets in the Purépecha Plateau.
The cross-fire was registered in the community of Huécato, after the inhabitants tried to rescue two youths that had been arrested by the soldiers because they knocked down a tree.
In the cross-fire two soldiers died and two civilians, but hours later a second attack was registered on the part of the soldiers and they killed a third civilian.
"The case of Huécato was a very particular case", Cárdenas Batel said yesterday, "It is not intended to carry out operations of the type that caused the incident in Huécato, this is another mechanism".
The Agent affirmed that in spite of the entrance of the Army, the operations continue being coordinated by the Federal Attorney's office of Environmental Protection.
He added that in parallel form, its Government offers the families dedicated to the illegal logging other forms of livelihood , such as the creation of a family businesses or care of the forest.
"In no way will we limit ourselves to punitive actions, we are going to continue working in the presiding committees that already stand up for matters [issues] of a productive nature.
"We cannot single-handedly fight the illegal logging with police, that is absolutely clear for ourselves and the productive alternative is so important or more important. "
The following article appeared in La Region, a newspaper published weekly in Zitacuaro and in Cambio de Michoacán, a regional newspaper on the 29th of May. This article appeared at about the time the Mexican army asserted some authority in the region. The incident described below happened sometime during the 21st-24th of May.
In the face of Government Indifference Illegal loggers detain reporters for making reports in the monarch zone
They were threatened and stripped of their equipment by persons who log illegally
Rene Serrano/ Column: "Change in Michoacan"
Saturday, May 29th, 2004
Local reporters who accompanied the correspondent in Mexico for the North American newspaper, the New York Times, who tried to make a report on the illegal logging in the municipality of Ocampo, were detained for several hours, threatened, and stripped of cell phones, cameras, and recorders by a group of persons that was logging trees in an illegal manner.
The colleague, Salatiel Arroyo, of the weekly "The Wakeup", related that everything began when the journalist, Ginger Thompson, contacted it [The Wakeup] to learn that [if] in the monarch zone they were devastating the forests in the presence of the indifference of authorities, for which she decided to come to investigate; and they were taken to the communities of El Asoleadero and El Rosario, in the municipality of Ocampo.
Already on the road from Ocampo to El Rosario, Salatiel indicates that they encountered eight loaded trucks of recently cut pieces wood; some showed signs of being lawful to pretend legality.
In the community of San Luis, they continued finding loaded trucks of lumber, to continue with their road [they were taking], they ran into a truck that apparently had broken down, that was when they decided to turn around, but someone had placed stones on the road preventing them from passing.
Detained, a group of peasants surrounded them and began to attack them verbally; they insulted them and took from them their articles of work: photographic cameras, recorders, and cell phones. When they were able, they managed to move away from the place, but further on the people had placed boards on the road. They could no longer leave, and for those moments already there were more than 20 attackers present, that intended to carry them to the peak.
After receiving offenses and more threats, the group of journalists was authorized to be gone, they boarded their vehicle and arrived at the municipal offices of Ocampo.
Humiliation and offence was the result of seeking information on a serious problem that would seem authorities will only pay the required attention when they themselves are aroused by bloody deeds.
The persons dedicated to the illegal logging continue acting freely, taking advantage of any pause in the ineffective [control] operations, to return to the mountain and replace the time [lost] and diminish what remains of natural life in that region.
On 2 June an article appeared in the New York Times by Ginger Thompson entitled "Where Butterflies Rest, Damage Runs Rampant". The article describes the encounter with the loggers described in the previous report from Cambio Michoacán. Unfortunately, the reporters only visited San Luis, a community near El Rosario, and did not get to Chincua, where the presence of up to a hundred trucks per day loaded with logs led to the protests by the citizens of Angangueo reported in the previous update. The extent of the illegal logging at Chincua still needs to be assessed but could be substantial given that it was essentially unchecked for at least two months. Azteca television in Mexico aired a video of the destruction of the forest at Chincua on 10 May. The video follows 4 or more trucks loaded with logs as they move down the highway at night. The images of the forest show extensive cutting not clear-cutting but the next thing to it.
One relatively small area where the trees had been cut had been burned but it wasnt clear how or why this had happened. There is no way to assess the amount of deforestation at Chincua from this video but its clearly not trivial.
Because the NY Times article is copyrighted, it cant be reproduced here; however, the article can be accessed online at:
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The following quotes from the Times article are revealing of the attitudes of the residents, the economics that drive logging and limitations to interdiction of illegal logging by authorities. This combination of attitudes, economics, and limited funding for interdiction point to how difficult it will be for the Mexican government to stop illegal logging.
"The mobs ambush the police and terrorize village leaders who threaten to stop them. Left alone to defend their property, some beleaguered villages take the law into their own hands to fight back against the loggers, often using the same violent tactics. Most villages surrender and sell their trees."
"Indeed, the mud-smeared men of San Luis spoke with contempt for a society they say cares more about the butterflies than about their families. This land belongs to them, they said, and they would not surrender their rights to a presidential decree, much less forsake the needs of their children for bugs."
"Mexico had given this land to peasants from the spoils of the revolution. With the creation of the reserve in 1986, the peasants accused the government of taking their land away."
"Now, as the demand for wood grows in factories, construction companies and fruit packing plants, middlemen have moved into the forests offering good money for timber - about five times the average daily wage for a 60-year-old pine - and peasants have decided to do business."
"Federal environmental authorities are also strapped for money and manpower. Unlike the United States, where nearly 2,000 permanent and seasonal armed rangers patrol 387 national parks, Mexico's protected areas are hardly protected at all, with fewer than 400 roving, unarmed inspectors assigned to watch over 150 natural reserves."
The following text, a summary of a larger report, was posted to the WWFMX web site at
Tuesday, June 1, 2004. Please visit the address above for the images that accompanied this article. This report does not contain estimates of the deforestation at Chincua and other locations since the later half of March.
Documentation of deforestation in the Region of the Monarch Butterfly
Deforestation has prevailed in the Monarch Butterfly Region from 2001 to 2004, even though the federal and state environmental authorities have knowledge of this problem, one that affects a protected/sheltered natural area by Presidential Decree. The accusations and efforts on the part of the communities of the region show the will and the commitment of the agrarian nuclei that have received little support on the part of the authorities to protect their forests.
For example, the Ejido Francisco Serrato, in the east of the state of Michoacán, has lost the totality of their 250 hectares since 2001 to date in spite of the fact that their inhabitants anticipated the entrance of illegal loggers onto their property, they carried out efforts to stop the stripping, and they responded before the respective authorities [did]. September 3, 2002 the community denounced the stripping to the state authorities, which was repeated at the end of that same month and in July of the following year.
Similar cases are documented in the report "The Illegal Logging/[Stripping] and its Impact in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve ", prepared by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF by its acronym in English) for "Nature", which contains studies of instances in five properties: Ejido Francisco Serrato, the Federal Property, and the indigenous communities of San Francisco Curungueo, Francisco Serrato, and Crescencio Morales, as well as direct and indirect evidences on this stripping since 2001 to the beginning of 2004, and a series of recommendations to put the brakes on this clandestine activity.
The report establishes that between 2001 and 2004 there have been stripped at least 370 hectares in the buffer zone and 141 hectares more have been damaged [spoiled] in the nucleus zone of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The hectares stripped do not reflect the gravity of the problem, therefore considering the different types of evidences, it is concluded that 28 communities have suffered logging/stripping in the past three years, 23 of them in the nucleus zone, where to cut trees is prohibited according to the Presidential Decree of 2000.
Comparison of the area stripped from March 2001-February 2003
The report is supported by the analysis of forest cover change in the central nucleus zone of the Reserve by means of air photographs in 2001 and 2003; field samplings of 12 properties; the analysis of the deforestation in two areas of the buffer zone; and information on grounds where stripping has been observed, obtained in 21 flights in 2003 and 2004. Likewise, it documents accusations of inhabitants of the region, inspections carried out by the Federal Attorney's office of Environmental Protection, the locating of 61 sawmills, and the construction of trenches on the part of the communities to stop to the trucks of the illegal loggers.
The properties of the nucleus zone where the stripping has been proven are the indigenous communities of Crescencio Morales (50 hectares), Francisco Serrato (43 hectares), Donaciano Ojeda (24 hectares) and the Ejido El Rosario (2 hectares) in the state of Michoacán, and the Ejido La Mesa (20 hectares) and the small property of Rancho Verde (2 hectares) in the State of Mexico. Besides 370 hectares were deforested in the buffer zone: 250 in the Ejido Francisco Serrato and 120 in the Ejido Emiliano Zapata.
"It is not necessary that the forest be wrecked to end the phenomenon of the Monarch butterfly migration, therefore the stripping of some trees can alter seriously its habitat making them more susceptible to the negative effects of extreme climatic events, to alter the capacity of the forest to protect the butterflies when low temperatures and rain combine", explained Omar Vidal, Director of WWF in Mexico.
In the Property of the Federal Reserve, which comprises 600 hectares of forest of oyamel and pine in the Sierrra Chincua Municipality of Angangueo, in Michoacán, the deforestation is occurring to within scant meters of the tourist entrance to visit the Monarch butterfly, while the settlers of the indigenous community San Francisco Curungueo in Michoacán formed vigilance brigades and created trenches with pickaxes and digging sticks to block accesses. The community even requested support, without results, at the moment the illegal loggers were knocking down trees and transporting illegal lumber. In turn, the indigenous community of Crescencio Morales in Michoacán decided to take the law in its own hands and destroyed various trucks of the illegal loggers.
WWF has knowledge of 48 letters from the communities directed to various agencies of government and to other environmental entities requesting support or denouncing the stripping in the Reserve. The civil company (citizenry) and the communication media have also denounced repeatedly that forest devastation.
At the beginning of 2003, WWF received the first request for assistance from the communities for the elaboration of trenches as preventive measure to put the brakes on the access of the illegal loggers to their grounds. The first trenches were excavated with pick axe and digging stick, but subsequently excavators were hired. The report documents 43 trenches. During fieldwork, WWF also documented the presence of 61 sawmills, 24 in the State of Mexico and 37 in Michoacán.
WWF concludes that in spite of enormous efforts on the part of different plaintiffs involved, the stripping persists in the Reserve, and considers that there are not economic resources that will put the brakes on the clandestine [activity]: it is the commitment, the political decision, and the coordination [that will do so]. The creation of the Reserve in 1986; its enlargement, thanks to a Presidential Decree in 2000; the orchestration of the Fund for the Monarch Butterfly since 2001; and the installation of the Regional Monarch Butterfly Forum on the part of the state/federal authorities; and the citizenry in 2004 are key actions. Nevertheless, it is necessary that all these initiatives be translated into a permanent vigilance to assure the conservation of the winter habitat of the Monarch butterfly in Mexico.
The response of the authorities has been sporadic and has not had the necessary magnitude to stop this environmental delinquency. The operations carried out by competent authorities in April and May of this year are important, but for these activities to be effective in the protection of the Reserve, the vigilance must be permanent.
To stop the illegal stripping, WWF recommends the establishment of squads with a permanent presence of the army in strategic points, just as has been asked for by the same communities; the obstruction of accesses to the nucleus zone to prevent the entrance of illegal logging trucks; periodic inspections of the Reserve and sawmills in the region; the strengthening of community vigilance committees; environmental education campaigns for authorities and users of lumber; evaluation of damages and restoration of sites; the establishment of immediate communication mechanisms so that the communities can report in an effective way to the authorities; and the promotion of economic alternatives for the inhabitants of the region.
WWF trusts that this report supports the authorities and the decision makers in the protection of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, and that future generations will be participants in the marvelous migratory phenomenon of this species.
The article below followed the press release by the WWF Mexico on Tuesday 1 June 2004.
They criticize anti-illegal logging action
LA REFORMA (June 02, 2004)
By Benito Jiménez
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Despite the large operation on the part of the Federal government to put the brakes on the illegal logging, the deforestation in the Monarch Butterfly Region prevails, the World Wildlife Fund said yesterday.
In the last three years, 500 hectares of forest have been devastated--what equals to 500 soccer fields--by the clandestine logging that is done with the knowledge of State and Federal authorities without up to now a forceful response existing, reported Omar Vidal, director of the agency in Mexico and Carlos Galindo, coordinator of the Program "Mexican Forests".
To present the report: "The illegal logging and its impact in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve" carried out since 2001 until the beginning of 2004 indicated that besides the loss of more than 500 hectares of forest, mainly of pine, 61 sawmills were detected and the construction of trenches built by the commune members to try to stop the roads of the illegal loggers.
The agency in Mexico created a fund to encourage people to preserve the forest and indicated that for not logging a cubic meter of wood to each family is provided 18 dollars of recompense and by labor to improve her green areas, between 8 and 12 dollars per hectare.
Nevertheless, five cubic meters of pine has a cost in the black market of 7,500 pesos.
The agency recommended to the Federal government, among other points, the stationing of Army squads in strategic places to deny accesses to the Reserve and to watch the lumber that enters the sawmills.
Yes that is a firm hand.- PROFEPA
Cuauhtémoc González, Director General of Forestry Inspection of PROFEPA, indicated that on the part of the agency personnel a firm hand is not lacking to proceed against the illegal loggers.
"The firm hand is established in the law and we are respectful of the law, I believe that the fight we are waging is without mercy in forestry matters.
"The goal is to terminate within this year logging in 15 large places where the illegal logging has grown as a result of phenomenal price increases and the elasticity of the demand for lumber prior to this phenomenon which has accelerated", he said.
He recounted that PROFEPA set in motion a program of 100 days to eradicate this practice. For the time being, he indicated that in the Monarch Butterfly zone three [small] illegal logging ringleaders were detained 20 days ago.
The loggers described in this article were entering Chincua from the backside rather than near the public entrance to the reserve used by the loggers referred to in earlier coverage of the deforestation occurring near the colony sites at Chincua.
Cambio Michoacan, Friday, 11 June 2004.
They detain two presumed illegal loggers and they assure 25 cubic meters of wood
by Leonardo Vazquez
The Center of Intelligence and National Security (CISEN), supported by personnel of the Federal Investigations Agency and Special Operations Group, secured 25 cubic meters of wood and arrested two presumed clandestine illegal loggers, during a surprise operation carried out early yesterday morning.
Around 2:00 a. m. yesterday, a group of police agents, also assisted by an agent of the Public Department of the Confederacy, and a delegate of PROFEPA, Francisco Luna Contreras, initiated the focus in the Irimbo municipality, in the east of the State, from there to the municipality of Aporo, where the vigilance position was mounted.
This was the first occasion in which an operation was made against illegal loggers at that hour of the early morning, since after studying the method of operation of the illegal loggers it was shown that those are the moments most used to knock down and to transfer the illegal lumber to the sawmills located in the same region.
And the results were positive, therefore around 4:00 in the morning, two trucks loaded with pine and oyamel logs were detected, originating from the monarch butterfly protected zone, that hours before had been knocked down.
On this occasion the operation was coordinated by Ignacio Chávez, deputy delegate of the CISEN, an institution that since months ago carried out inspections and has managed to get information on the problem of the clandestine logging, already considered a topic of national security.
The illegal lumber was transported on a truck with plates [number] NF 10705 that carried on its trailer bed fifteen cubic meters of logs and on another without plates, but with Federal Public Utility sticker [number] 091 CJ9, that carried ten cubic meters of lumber of the same species.
The drivers of the trucks were Elio Sánchez and Abel Arrieta Sánchez who were detained by the police units and remanded to [placed in the custody of] the Public Department of the Confederacy for crimes against the environment.
Before the fear that accomplices of the illegal loggers would try to recover the load and free the detained, an armed contingent of the Special Operations Group escorted the two trucks to the installations of the PGR in Morelia, where they also remained to guard the drivers of the units.
Another part of the contingent continued with the vigilance site and patrol in Aporo, until a little after 6:00 in the morning at which [time] they woke up the relief squad [troops], but it was reported that type of maneuvers will continue at the most appropriate hours to catch red-handed the illegal loggers and dealers in illegal lumber.
Night Operations Ordered
By Adan Garcia
(June 18, 2004).
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The Federal Attorney's Environmental Protection Office ordered the implementation of nocturnal operations to halt the logging of trees in the Monarch Butterfly Preserve.
According to the Representative of PROFEPA in Michoacán, Francisco Luna Contreras, from May to this date [the department] has had two night operations.
The result was 13 presumed illegal loggers detained, among them two members of the Valencia Tellez family, one of the most sought bands from the region.
"The situation was again becoming somewhat difficult for the organizations that had ceased resistance there, the illegal loggers had been guarded in such way that they could break the law in this zone and the legal proceeding of the Attorney's office and the police was apparently limited by the quantity of people that resorted to this crime", he revealed.
"Now we have worked out several strategies, one of them is nocturnal operations, and we have already dealt [them] important blows".
The Monarch Butterfly Preserve currently covers a total of 56 thousand 250 hectares, laid out on the borders of Michoacán and the State of Mexico.
Of that area, 16 thousand hectares correspond to the so-called nucleus zone, the area where the majority of the population of butterflies hibernates when they arrive from Canada at the end of November.
According to Luna Contreras, the illegal loggers have been arrested justly in that zone nucleus, unloading, transporting, or knocking down trees.
"We have since the previous month begun operations during the day and night, and fortunately last time we arrested two of the most important [ones] with a cargo of more than 30 cubic meters, and the previous week we arrested 11 more", he said.
The figure of illegal loggers arrested in the night represents 26 percent of the 44 persons apprehended in the whole year for that crime.
The nocturnal raids are carried out with agents of the Federal Investigations Agency (AFI), Ministerial Police, and the State Special Operations Group, indicated the official.
Army will guard Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries
By Arturo Estrada Chavez/ Information Analysis and Correspondence Agency
Thursday June 17, 2004
Morelia, Mich., June 17--Units of the Mexican Army will have a presence in the monarch butterfly sanctuaries, in order to dissuade and discourage the activity of the illegal loggers in the region, acknowledged Michoacán Governor, Lazarus Cardenas Batel.
However, he clarified that the Mexican Army will only have support functions, of endorsement, since its fundamental task is to safeguard the sovereignty of the country, to announce that they will intensify the actions to fight the phenomenon of clandestine logging in Michoacán forests.
In a press conference, the State spokesman clarified that soldiers positioned in strategic forest sites" will not pursue illegal loggers".
Further on, Lazarus Cardenas also announced that the recently created Secretary of Public Security Office will support in an important manner the combating of clandestine logging of the State's forested zone.
He added that his administration will allocate a healthy sum of money to buy modern equipment, ultramodern, that allows with better results the fighting of forest fires, that year after year devastate important areas.
The clandestine logging of lumber we will fight jointly with the Federal authorities, thus combining efforts we will continue confiscating large quantities of lumber and detaining the offenders of the law, he expressed.
Besides he acknowledged that as to the protection of the monarch butterfly sanctuaries, good coordination is had with the governor of the State of Mexico, Arturo Montiel.
We will fight, he said, the logging of the Michoacán forests with all the force of the State, therefore the efforts are serious and strong to obtain each time better results in that line.
Moments before, in the framework of the VI (National of Legislators in Environmental Matter), Lazarus Cardenas had declared that no development without sustainability can exist.
Finally, the representative said that Michoacán is an entity extremely rich in its natural patrimony, its great diversity, and that its emblems are Lake Patzcuaro and the monarch butterfly.
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