Reforestation Solutions
Michoacan Reforestation Fund

Jose Luis Alvarez wondered,

“How can efforts to stop clearing and thinning the forests surrounding the monarch’s overwintering sites be successful if there are not alternative places to harvest wood?”

This question led him to create the Michoacan Reforestation Fund (MRF). MRF takes a common-sense approach based in economic realities. The Project works with local landowners to help them shift away from growing marginal crops to growing trees. The landowners plant small commercial plantations. They harvest the trees for their own uses and for income. MRF provides free, high quality pine seedlings to the landowners, delivered directly to the planting sites.

As the forest grows, the trees are to be thinned and harvested according to this schedule:

  • 4-5 years: Harvest of Christmas trees (for sale in Mexico City)
  • 5 years: 1st thinning takes place, yielding posts, stakes, fence, and firewood.
  • 10 years: 2nd thinning yields some lumber for boxes and pallets
  • 15 years: Remaining trees now have heartwood diameters of 30 cm or greater and can be harvested for saw timber, beams and pallets. Waste material can also be used for pulp production. Upon harvesting, a landowner can expect income of over $20,000 U.S. dollars from 1 hectare.

MRF began the program in 1997. At the end of this year’s planting season (summer 2003), 1.3 million trees will have been planted in the monarch region.


ReforestMPR019 "This is a commercial plantation. The owner of this parcel of land will extract wood on the 5th year, on the 10th year and then on the 15th year."


(Viewing Tips)


"Here is the tree that has been pruned, and these are the branches. These will be used for firewood. And for the tree, you can see here where it has been pruned. This is going to be high quality lumber because it is going to be straight and there will be no knots in it."

How Fast the Forest Grows!
Trees grow quickly in this part of the world. The trees shown below were planted in 1998. Notice how much they grew in a single year.

ReforestMPR031 ReforestMPR019 ReforestMRP062
This species of pine grows between 1 and 2 meters in a single year.

Nov 2001
Planted 3 1/2 years earlier

Dec 2002
Planted 4 1/2 years earlier


Reforestation improves soils and protects against erosion.


National Science Education Standards

Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Resources are things we get from living and nonliving environment to meet the needs and wants of a population. (K-4)

Some resources are basic materials, such as air, water, and soil; some are produced from basic resources, such as food, fuel, and building materials; and some resources are nonmaterial, such as quiet places, beauty, security, and safety. (K-4)

The supply of many resources is limited. If used, resources can be extended through recycling and decreased use. (K-4)