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MEXICO: Purépecha People and Monarch Butterflies

Protecting wildlife and public health through fuel efficient stoves

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The Problem:

Every year hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies arrive in the ancient Oyamel fir forests of the Sierra Madres in Michoacán, Central Mexico, many having traveled as far as 3,000 miles. However, each year 100,000 trees are cut for fuel around and within Central Mexico's 140,000-acre Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) in Michoacán province. This widespread deforestation has lowered temperatures in the butterfly's winter habitat, causing more than half of the butterfly population to freeze to death.

Simultaneously, every year 4.3 million people, mainly women and children, die due to chronic smoke inhalation from open indoor cooking fires. Injuries and serious burns, primarily for small children are ubiquitous with these indoor rural cooking fires.

How ECOLIFE® Helps:

These two tragedies, while on the surface seeming far apart, are actually closely intertwined and preventable. ECOLIFE® works to provide indigenous populations living around the butterfly sanctuaries with more efficient wood-burning stoves for cooking and heating their homes. The Patsari stove is 60% more fuel-efficient than cooking over the traditional open fire and reduces respiratory ailments by at least 35% by decreasing hazardous smoke emissions. The fuel efficiency of the stove means that 60% less wood is needed and, consequently, fewer trees are destroyed.

Since 2004 ECOLIFE®, in collaboration with Cuatros Elementos and more recently with Altenare, has built over 1,000 permanent, vented, safe, fuel-efficient stoves in several ejidos (communities) that are selected based on their impact on the butterfly reserves and surrounding forests. ECOLIFE® respectfully informs the community members of the number of stoves it can provide and they themselves determine where within the community the stoves will go. The goal of this ongoing project is to build as many fuel-efficient stoves as possible to protect the over-wintering habitat of the monarch butterfly and improve the quality of life of the people surrounding it.

How You Can Help:

  • With every $150 donation, ECOLIFE® builds and installs a highly efficient wood burning Patsari stove in a home and enters the stove into our health and monitoring program.
  • Planting native milkweed in your own garden can also help traveling monarch butterflies as they migrate from Canada to Mexico every year.
  • Be active on our Facebook Page. Get your friends and their friends involved.