PEOPLE AND THE FORESTS
"Every day when I get up, I think about one thing: where do
I get enough food for my family and myself to eat at least once
a day?" a farmer despaired.
Yes, there are people who live in the Oyamel and pine forests and
who share it with the monarch butterflies. They are poor farmers.
They live in indigenous communities and in communal groups called
ejidos. The indigenous community members and ejiditarios eke out
a living in and from the forest and play a large role in determining
how much of the forest will be intact when monarchs come back each
To subsist they have cleared large areas of forest to plant corn
and oats and graze their cattle on thin soil. Each day they must
trek farther into the forest to cut wood for cooking or to build
or repair their crude shelters. But a growing population and overly
intensive use of the land makes this way of life an unsure one.
As the economist David Bray of Florida International University
surmised "There are two miracles in the monarch overwintering
areas. The first is that the monarch butterflies have survived.
The second is that the ejidatarios have survived."
The ejidatarios' present lifestyle cannot continue, for either humans
Sustainable reforestation is emerging as an alternative that offers
a dignified, sustainable lifestyle and a better, more hopeful future
for their children. We are trying to help these small farmers. The
response has been good. More and more ejidatarios see that reforestation
provides hope for themselves and for their children.