Historic deal to protect millions of habitat acres for the Monarch Butterfly.
When anyone mentions great migrations, most people immediately think of The Great Migration when vast numbers of wildebeest and zebra travel from Kenya's Maasai Mara to Tanzania's Serengeti National Park and then back again. Others may think of the Caribou in the Arctic but, let's face it, almost nobody would think of the incredible 3,000 mile flight of Monarch butterflies on their journey to and from Mexico through the western United States and Canada.
Decades of development along their migration routes have impeded the ability of these colourful butterflies to complete their round-trip odyssey - but the good news is that this is now being corrected.
A new public-private partnership that includes 45 companies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in partnership with the University of Illinois-Chicago, has created a programme for protecting habitat along vital migration corridors, making the butterflies' journey, from when they leave their summer breeding ground in the northwest U.S. and Canada to travel all the way to central Mexico, a great deal better for these gorgeous creatures.
“Completing this agreement is a huge boost for the conservation of monarch butterflies and other pollinators on a landscape scale,” said Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Participants to the agreement which include landowners, farmers, transportation and energy companies, and more, will carry out conservation measures to reduce or remove threats to the species and create and maintain habitat annually. Although this agreement specifically focuses on monarch habitat, the conservation measures will also benefit several other species, especially pollinating insects.
Much of this work will take place along the sides of highways and other roads, as well as under hydro lines, and around other energy infrastructure; which may not seem like prime wildlife habitat but can actually be extremely useful both for wildflowers and other plants which pollinators rely on, and for linking fractured habitat zones.
Officials estimate that as many as 2.3 million acres of roadsides and utility lands may be involved in the agreement, becoming habitat for monarchs and other pollinators.