THE 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 November.

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 or butterflies.

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.