Nuquí, Chocó Biogeographical Region. Part 1

Continuing with the last post, the recent training in Madison was given to me as an opportunity to learn about Monarchs. I wanna make a parenthesis here because you will think I'm here contradicting myself and again making complex for you to understand what a Forest engineer does, we usually work around forests and communities but remember everything is connected and other organisms have been into my interests recently, butterflies, for example, are bioindicators they tell us about the status or health in the surroundings, they always come back to the same breeding or feeding spots so you can monitor the evolution of forests throughout monitoring butterflies population in time.

Understanding how they develop and all details in migration processes, makes it even more interesting to see them in the wilderness, makes me see even more colors, and creates a challenge of try to find them in the trees or wild bushes, (an amazing fact about Monarchs, is that while other butterflies live just 24 days in average, Monarchs can live up to nine months), they are pretty evolved and definitively opposite as you would think, they are not fragile if you compare them to alike organisms, nevertheless, they also have external hazards, they have a certain degree of fragility, and we humans are really good at finding solutions with collateral damage, in this case by using broad-spectrum pesticides and another type of pest control products that can stay for more than a year, we are increasing the risk of butterflies and other beneficent organisms dying for systemic poisoning.

I feel pretty fortunate because while I was learning wonderful things about Monarchs, at the same time they happened to be included on the red list as an endangered specie after 2 years of hard work, from the people behind it. For science is a bittersweet moment because indicates its endangered status is approved by international instances, a fact; But also means that the government has to create policies or use the ones in this matter in order to preserve and try to improve the status of certain specie, it can vary from country to country.

there are some sides of me as a nature scientist, one is the idealist, the one that thinks that small actions made by individuals can really make a change, that's the case of the people I had the opportunity to meet recently, one of them has a huge experience with an international NGO and he has given the big responsibility of dealing with powerful people (even more powerful than governors), in order to get some funding and resources for continuing the work in conservation of forests.

he takes care of the migration processes of monarchs, he makes sure that the forest where they are going to hibernate is healthy and protected from logging, the reward? the yearly exhibition of a forest covered in orange flapping little wings all over the place and the satisfaction of seeing how they go back to the north in another heroic travel to start the new cycle of first-generation monarchs until the north gets too cold. And as it is on the political scale, taking care of migration processes, and making sure the specimens survive is not an easy task, Monarchs are very sensitive and travel a long path in short span of life, apparently just to hibernate in the south but some of the studies have shown this as an evolutive strategy, in fact, the individuals from the north that are sick (parasitized, ill, with physical mutations, etc) don't make it to the south and instead they are part of the local population.

Another example of a small action big impact is the case of a lady who works with rural kids making awareness of their environment, and Monarchs, have given her some tools to make this task more graphic, by explaining how the other part of the live of this migratory organisms, do in the north, so she facilitates a cultural exchange with some other kids in the north which are familiar with monarchs too, and they basically draw in a letter size butterfly everything related to monarch instars and how this organisms identify themself into their culture and life, some of this kids are part of first or second generation of migrant population coming from the south so it really touch them, also there is a religious beliefs on this monarchs of being the family members that fade away and they come every year to visit, so culturally people is attached to Monarch's migration and THIS is what we need to use to create awareness and empower people about their environment, communities are the biggest advocates in conservation and they determine the success or a restoration process in the long term.

We need to always attach conservation to communities in the area of conflict other ways we are just trying to help someone who doesn’t know needs help, scientific papers are essential but they need to be applicable and logical for the people that need to use this research results.


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