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Montes Azules

Located between the Guatemalan border and the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas, Mexico, lies a tract of unprotected rainforest in danger of disappearing. This region bordering the Biosphere Reserve now has a chance at survival thanks to a series of conservation efforts established by Montes Azules.

In the absence of viable economic alternatives in an area suffering nearly 100 percent unemployment, local populations are utilizing the forest (including the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve) in an unsustainable manner for such subsistence purposes as slash and burn agriculture and timber. Montes Azules is dedicated to the preservation of the Montes Azules Reserve and the surrounding region through the establishment of a buffer zone around the reserve's periphery. Local residents are provided with environmentally sensitive jobs in this buffer region, enabling them to utilize the rainforest in a sustainable manner.

Consequently 340,000 hectares of rainforest, both inside and outside the Reserve, will be saved. In this way Montes Azules is changing the philosophy of the native populations regarding the utilization of the rainforest, from that of an immediate source of income in the form of timber or other unsustainable enterprises, to a viable economic resource for surrounding communities if managed in an appropriate manner. Current conservation projects include:

Butterfly Ranching Enterprise

The pilot project of Montes Azules in this conservation effort is a extensive butterfly ranching enterprise involving the local communities bordering the Biosphere Reserve. Local residents, trained by professional lepidopterologists in species recognition, the use of nets and traps, and the handling and storage of specimens are employed by Montes Azules to collect these beautiful creatures for sale to private collectors, scientists, museums, and other interested parties worldwide. Please note that these butterflies are collected and sold in carefully controlled numbers (less-than one-half of a percent of any one species in the region) in order to ensure their long term preservation.

This butterfly ranching enterprise was initiated in the "Boca de Chajul", a community located on the edge of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve (please see map, 32,000 bytes) because, not only are the residents eager to engage in such a collaborative effort, but also because they control one of the largest remaining forested areas outside the reserve. An agreement signed by the community and Montes Azules guarantees that this forested land remain untouched as long as the project represents a significant economic benefit to its members.

This project is sanctioned by the appropriate Mexican and United States governmental agencies. We provide copies of all relevant permits with all orders. This is currently the only legal butterfly ranching project in Mexico and therefore the only legal means of obtaining the some 450+ species unique to the region encompassed by this effort. None of these species is listed under CITES or the US Endangered Species Act.

Camino Real a Xochimilco no. 60, Tepepan Xochimilco 16020 Mexico, D.F.

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