Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is a World Heritage Site containing most of the over-wintering sites of the eastern population of the monarch butterfly. The reserve is located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests ecoregion on the border of Michoacán and State of Mexico, 100 km, northwest of Mexico City. Millions of butterflies arrive in the reserve annually. Butterflies only inhabit a fraction of the 56,000 hectares of the reserve from October–March. The biosphere’s mission is to protect the butterfly species and its habitat.
Most of the over-wintering monarchs from eastern North America are found here. Western researchers discovered these areas in 1975. Presidential decrees in the 1980s and 2000 designated these still privately held areas as a federal reserve. The Reserve was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1980 and a World Heritage Site in 2008. The reserve remains predominantly rural. Reserve administrators continue to be concerned with deleterious effects of illegal logging and tourism. Conservation efforts sometimes conflict with the interests of local farmers, community-based landowners, private land owners and indigenous people.
The reserve was designated in 1980 by President José López Portillo. In the late 1980s reserve management was delegated to the Secretariat of Urban Development and Ecology. It was at this time assigned the category of “special biosphere reserve.” In 1986, the area and boundaries of the zones were defined. In 2000, it received its name (Reserva de la Biosfera Mariposa Monarca). UNESCO declared the biosphere a World Heritage site in 2008 as a Natural Asset. Currently the area is known for tourism, logging, mining and farming. It has remained mostly rural, noted for communities of Otomi and Mazahua.
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Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve Reviews
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59 reviews
  • It was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had there were thousands of butterfly!!! It’s a little difficult to get to but worth the trip !! The signs to point you in the right direction ...  more »
  • I heard read how challenging this access point is, but wanted to say this year when I went it wa quite easy. Everything went smoothly to go independently there, mini bus and taxis were easy to find. S...  more »
  • absolutely wonderful. My 6 year old son has been raising monarchs in the u.s. since he was 4 years old. we took him here for his birthday. He was amazed at how many millions of monarch are here. The horse ride up with also fantastic. The hike up to the horses also neat with all the local vendors.
  • We entered at El Rosario entrance to the reserve. It was a warmer year so most of the monarchs had left for the migration. El Rosario is the lowest elevation of the various entries. It was still amazing even with most of the butterflies gone!
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