The Children's Monarch Reforestation Project
A Collabration Between Journey North and the Michoacan Reforestation Fund

1st Annual Planting Day
June, 2003


My name is Jose Luis Alvarez. I live in Central Mexico in the State of Michoacan. For the past seven years I have been growing trees and planting them where millions of Monarch Butterflies come to spend the winter months. Their winter home is threatened by deforestation. So far we have been able to plant over 1 million trees.

This year we planted a special group of trees that we are calling The Children's Monarch Reforestation Project. The trees have been paid for with contributions from school children in the United States and Canada. The funds were raised last fall during Journey North's Symbolic Migration. Each tree costs fifty cents.

Let me tell you the story of what happened this year. On June 20th we loaded 10,000 trees onto a truck and trailer at our nursery at Hacienda La Cruz in Santa Clara del Cobre in the State of Michoacan. We then drove 230 kilometers to the butterfly overwintering area in the mountains.

We met a school principal, Domitilda Mirana Colin, another teacher, Ortencia, and their students from grades 1 to 6. The students helped us unload the seedlings and carry them to the area where they planted 7,500 seedlings. The property that they planted is owned by their school and is on the road on the way up to a Monarch Sanctuary at the community of El Rosario. It has been damaged by illegal logging and by a fire.

The grove will start the process of reforestation of this piece of school land. The students and the teachers will benefit in the future as the trees grow under their regular care. They will have firewood from the branches that are pruned from the trees as they grow. Some of the trees will have to be cut to make room for the other trees. The trees can be used for wood to build houses; other trees might be sold and the income will help the school.

It was a grand day. The students enjoyed not going to class and riding up to where we planted. Some of the children rode all crowded together in my truck. There was a lot of laughter, but it was nothing like the great spirits they exhibited coming down the road back to the school.

When we got to the area where the seedlings were to be planted, everybody helped unload the young seedlings. Then the 5th and 6th graders used shovels that were bigger than they were to dig holes for the seedlings. The girls planted the seedlings by removing the plastic and placing a tree in each hole. Then earth was put in and the girls tamped it down with their hands and feet.

I personally enjoy planting with the children more than I do with adults. There is always much joy and hope. The children do not get tired, and they seem to understand what they are doing. I hope the pictures that we took and the video will give you an idea of how happy the children were. We spoke to the children about the benefits of planting a new forest. We told them that there will be less erosion, better drinking water, and better air to breathe. If they and the children that follow them take care of the forest and cut only the trees they need, the forest will always be there.

My hope is that as the children grow older, they will take care of the forest they have planted as well as the rest of the forest in the Monarch Overwintering Area. Let’s see how they both grow year by year.

Jose Luis Alvarez is the founder of the Michoacan Reforestation Fund.


National Science Education Standards

Life Science
Changes in environments can be natural or influenced by humans. Some changes are good, some are bad, and some are neither.

Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Human activities also can induce hazards through resource acquisition, urban growth, land-use decisions, and waste disposal. Such activities can accelerate many natural changes. (5-8)

National Geography Standards

Environment and Society
How human actions modify the physical environment.