NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
15 Jan 1999
- Mexico City
- 19.43274 -99.13325
Stereo=1; Split track; Neumann KMR 81; Shure SM85
Interview with Julia Carabias (JC)
January 14, 1999
3:03 JB - how imp are the monarch butterflies to mexicans?
3:08 JC - we as mexicans feel very lucky and very proud to be a part of this special and unique phenomenon which is the migrations of the monarch butterfly - the uniqueness is not some much bc this a species that is rare or danger of extinction - not at all. This is a butterfy that has a range of distribution - very very wide in the whole continent - even it is found in Central America. The importance is that part of the populations of the monarch butterfly¿has a process of migration and it has chosen Mexico as part of its life cycle, particularly the moments when it more difficult for the life - which is winter. And he has chosen mexico to live during those months. So, it - for mexico it is a big commitment to protect the monarch butterfly. And it is also a symbol that represent the interchange between 3 countries - north america with canada and the united states and it has also been utilized as a symbol of cultural interchange, trade interchange and we are having a lot of contact with my colleagues form the US and Canada - particularly yesterday we had a mtg with the minister of canada, christina stuart , we were talking about this for a while. This is going to be apart of our bilateral agenda in the bi-national mtg in otawa in feburary. 5:17 This has been always a part of the programs with interchange with minister bruce babbit of the united states and this is always been part of the tri-lateral relations with the countries, so as far as natural phenomena this is something very imp that we have to make our best efforts in the 3 countries to protect - that this doesn¿t disappear - the migration phenomenas - even if the populations of butterflies will always exist bc they are very resistant to all kind of changes. 5:57
5:55 JB - so I understand there are 5 sanctuaries that combined add up to 161 kilometers - of preserved areas. What are the different pressures right now that are being brought to bear on these diff sanctuaries btwn the diff interests that would like to see them either expanded or done away with entirely. I mean if you could explain the ejiditarios, biologists, all the other forces that have an interest in the sanctuaries. 6:32
6:33 JC - well, part of the habitats of the monarch is in mexico is the important temperate woods that exist in michoacan and mexico state - this is just part of the habitat. The rest of the habitat is just very diff conditions during the route in the states and in canada. When the butterfly arrives to m exico it is all the clusters arrives to some of the areas very narrow places that these areas are inhabited by a lot of population - there is perhaps in the region more than half millions basins living here. This has been a process for a long long time. This is not new. However the increase in population and the demographic explosion in the area it is a problem. It is also problem the levels of standard of living that people have here is very poor people and for a long time in the past where having very little dialogue, the decree of the reserves 20 yrs ago was not discussed and was not in consensus with the local population and that action caused irritation in its moment- uuummm- 8:16 we are very conscience that protecting any area cannot be apart from the
participation of the local people. In fact all our recent decrees of reserves have long processes of discussion first after having all the technical studies we go through the -uhhh- processes of discussing with the people ¿ahhh- uhhhh- the create -sp. - comes out when the people accept a reserve 8:48 and the, this didn¿t didn¿t happen in the monarch butterfly reserve, so the process of discussion has been once that the area were decreeeted ahh once that the area stop the utilization of the natural resources locally and ahh when people failed some ahh ahh problems in their economies ahh ahhh since ¿94 we have now 9:18 a local group which is called technical commission of assessment for the reserve and ahh in this commission all the locals are ahh represented, the communities based on organizations and the different levels of authorities federal municipalities and and ahh ahh at the level of the state, so the discussion in these groups comes out to some agreements of how, what can what can be done in the reserve and what cannot be done to protect the
9:51 area .why what we don¿t accept is to cut down trees because the utilization in the forestry, of the forestry of taking out the wood ahh is ahh gonna damage the reserve umm the utilization of the wood can be done outside the reserve and we are putting special attention in a special program which is called the model program for the forest. This is a 10:24 compania spanish, sp.with Canada that is ahh, helping with the technical assistance and with the uhh economic resources to try to concentrate the activity of the forest outside the reserve so that the population can find better ? stand their self leaving without
affecting the reserve. 10:46
10:47 JB I was reading last night, one biologist has said that this is perhaps the most threatened forest system in mexico, are you concerned the logging both legal and illegal is diminshing the overwintering habitat of the monarch? 11:03 (last word is over her start)
11:03 JC no, not at all, ahh we don¿t agree with what who has been saying that the area has been reducing , the reserve has been reducing the surface, it is not through (weird sound) ahh 11:19 we can have it through the uhhh the documentation, we have it through the photographs, ariel photographs, and interpretation. The center rings ? have not been affected except for illegal which is very little, the illegality and that there is a lot of, this is an area which has been in particular in force. We have inspectors constantly here, more that any area in the country, (stumble) than natural protected area.
11:52 JB Oh you¿re saying that the monarch sanctuary is protected more than any other in mexico?
11:55 JC Yes because we have ahh since ahh ¿92, special resources from GF, ahh GF put a lot of money to contract inspectors here and ahh we have special inspectors working in monarch. We don¿t have the situation in the rest of our natuaral protected areas unfortunately. We would like to have the same situation but there has there is no money to do it ummm 12:26 and in another natural protected areas we shared the inspectors in wider regions and for monarchs we have a special people working here so we cannot deny that there is problems of course there is problems in center rings ? and in their, Iin
the16 thousand hectres in their square, in their reserve, there¿s illegal cutting down, but this is not a threaten that can collapse the natural protected area, not at all. 13:00 (JB on top first word.) We have problems outside and that is something that we are analyzing, to try to control the surface (13:09 horn honk here¿..it is under her words) which is intermediate between the centeries ? So we have one cemetary ? here, the other here and in this intermediate we need to have also some kinds of sustainable development. 13:21
13:22 JB So you think the dangers to the sanctuary are being exaggerated?
13:25 JC yes, yes it has been exaggerated. Uhh we feel that we are much better now that we were in the past. We understand that this is a process and we feel that we are better because we have now the local participation of the people. Still of course there is the threaten that the community, part of the communities want to utilize the wood of this area. But we haven¿t allowed them. And proof of that, umm, I have had here, ahh, for ahh, sevens, ten occasions, big groups of patients demanding for permissions 14:05
if they are here demanding for permissions is that they are not cutting. Cause if not they weren¿t here in big ahh ahh groups of demonstrations. Sometimes I could not come out of my office because they were stopping the entrance, and the coming out. Because they were really demanding from permissions and were not given permissions for that. So this is 14:29 a process of regulation that every time is going to a better process. The, the natural protective area of monarch butterfly is not in danger. Ehhh, there are problems, but the problems are being solved in a process and I¿m absolutely sure that in this consensus discussion that we are having now , we have involved also the deputies, the deputies that are very ehh, ehhh, worried about not giving the permissions to the patients, and in representations of them, they came here to to demand the permissions was plain that this was not possible to do it in the reserve and we¿re in a process of understanding. 15:12 there is another program, very important in the area which is called the uhh, sustainable, the regional sustainable program ahh of development that uhmm, are putting ahh ahh economic resources and technical assistance to their communities to go to another kind of activites to take out pressure for the forest. We¿re working with them in another activities 15:41 and mainly heckle ? to reason. So this kind of activities can give them resource to live w/o cutting down and changing the use of lands. 15:52
15:53 JB clears throat. Everyone is interested in the monarch butterflies wants to know what the government is going to do as you re-write the decree that defines the sanctuaries. What, what can you say to the people who are wondering will you allow the farmers who live around the sanctuaries to have more privileges, more freedom to cut or will you be expanding the sanctuaries even further to protect more of the overwintering sites? 16:24
16:25 JC I think that none are completely correct. The two position are too extreme and polarized because we won¿t accept at all more flexibility than it is now so who are thinking. 16:41
16:41 (on top of her) JB - I¿m sorry I don¿t understand. More flexibility? 16:43
16:44 JC - in the utilization of the natural resources, it is, we won¿t we won¿t accept, let¿s go back. We are working in a process of redecree the area . But in that redecree ? is not to umm, to make smaller the reserve is on the contrary. Is in a process that we can first have the nucleus area w/o being touched and the rest of the area under control of which kind of use can be done here in a sustainable way w/o damaging the forest. 17:25 So for us the decree of having five separate areas is not solving the problem, because all the surface which is in the intermediate between the nucleus area are being destroyed and we believe that this is not a question of isolating as a small fragment of ice lands the the nucleus reserve 17:51 This has to be a surface which is white that has straight controls in the utilization of the natural resources there and w/o touching the nucleus area where the colonies of monarch are coming. So with processes of ahh agriforestry, ahh with intensification of the agriculture in the areas which are already open, with processes also of managing correctly the water for agriculture with another kind of productive projects 18:27 plus eculture ? reason, we can perfectly make compatible the development of the local people, the conservation of the areas where the colony of monarch butterfly comes
and ahh guaranteeing the protecting area for future. that is the idea of mo, model ahh forest, the pilot program upon ? the forest. This is an absolutely sustainable way of doing things.18:57
18:58 JB - So you would you would like to increase tourism in the area as a way to help
pay the ejiditarios who live around the sanctuary? You¿d like to see more visitors up there? (she steps on his last two words)
19:11 JC - I don¿t think that more visitors will be the solution. I think that it should be better organized of tourism there. Ahh There is about seven, ahh, six or seven thousand people every weekend, weekend, in some of the sanctuaries. We have three sanctuaries open now. In one of it, we¿ll receive seven thousand people a weekend, the other about two or three, the other a thousand. So we don¿t need more people. 19:42 This is a lot, perhaps this is a lot. However, the people that goes there, ahh, doesn¿t ahh it¿s not a benefit for the local people. With ahh, with ten thousand people going every weekend it has been enough money to share between the population that has much better standards of living. So we are organizing that tourism. It¿s a process with ahh ahh the minister of tourism also to reorganize the services for tourism and then the capture of ahh income there . 20:19 So more than promoting to go more, and perhaps in some of them I will say perhaps we have to cut down a little because we are having a lot of impact in some of the sanctuaries (JB over her)20:32
20:33 JB - I¿m sorry, cut down a little
20:34 JC the visits.
20:35 JB the visits?
20:36 JC - Yeah, seven thousand people in one weekend. It can be a problem also. So perhaps we have to control and spread more in the rest of the areas. So it¿s not so much
more people, it¿s to try to, to ahh get more money for the local people from the visits of tourisms. (JB YEAH) 20:59 and then services, resturants, perhaps little hotels outside that can has a better economic activity thanks to the visits of tourisms. 21:07
21:08 JB - okay. I wanted to ask something completely unrelated here, just on the tail end of the interview, because I¿m interested in the talk of the international peace park between Big Ben National Park in Texas and the two protected areas that are in Chihuahua and I think another state (female speaking spanish over this) 21:23. That;s right. Uhmm, I understand I think there was a letter of intent to the president uhh signed regarding this and there¿s sort of some new energy behind it. Would you just tell me, uhmm, what are the possibilities that this will ever happen, how much interest does the Mexican govt. have in creating an international peace park on the Texas Mexico border? 21:44
21:45 JC - Well this was an initiative that we started with Bruce Babbit a few years ago and we¿re very happy in the advances that have had there. We have natural (MIKE BUMP) protected area 21:57 in the part of mexico which is madredas eh carmen in quadillo (spanish) and another part which is ahh Canyon de saint delloino in Chihauhau (spanish) Both of them are nearly part of the San Augusto ? system and the counterpart is Big Ben. Since, ahh Since we have this agreement, we have events elaborating
MORE ON INTERNATIONAL PEACE PARK¿¿.
AMBI OF INTERVIEW: through 29:26
INTERVIEW WITH GUIERMO CASTILLEJA OF WWF
30:01 GC I am the country representative in Mexico for the world wild life fund.
30:09 TB - what is the tortilla syndrome and why does it frustrate conservationists in Mexico?
30:16 GC - Well, the tortilla syndrome is ahh 30:18
30:22 JB - feel free to start over, Gueillermo, we¿ll clean it up.
30:29 GC - The tortilla syndrome is like saying you cannot have conservation until people are well fed. And feeding people is going to be priority number one. And once that happens then you can have conservation. I think that is, that is, that is uhh, an artificial dilemma. I think you can have both. You can have a sustainable development and conservation, but definitely not ahh make conservation dependent on sustainable development because it won¿t happen. 31:01
31:02 JB - Do you find this argument a lot, what¿s more important, butterflies or children?
31:08 GC - yeah we hear that all the time, and the fact is, that even if the forest was destroyed and the butterflies were gone the people would still be hungry and starving and the children would still be need so one doesn¿t resolve the other problem.
31:23 JB - Do you think, umm, there is too much emphasis being put on sustainable development, ahh is is that a big part of the solution ? 31:35
31:36 GC - I think, I think it is a big part of the solution and I think we have to be thinking about sustainable development. We don¿t want to ahh have a situation where you have green parks well protected in the midst of a sea of destruction which is what you may find in some places ahh I would say like Costa Rica where you have a very wonderful protected area system but you look around and there¿s nothing but deforestation.
So I think sustainable development has to be an intregal part of a conservation strategy
32:07 of any region and in the case of the monarch butterfly sanctuary this is not an exception. Ahh, however, I think the problem is relying (PHONE RING) solely on ,(RING) on, oops
32:20 JB You better take that again
32:21 RING RING
32:23 JB Do you have to get that?
Phone ringing, answering in spanish
33:43 JB - Do you think that the govt. ecologists are putting too much hope in sustainable development?
33:54 GC - I think they are putting hope in sustainable development as they should and I think that some of the programs are actually working very well for the sake of the communities ahh umm I¿m not, but where I think they might be putting too much emphasis on it is as a main tool for conservation of areas that require strict conservation and that¿s why I think that sustainable development needs to be seen as one component. Ahh but definitely protected areas and strict conservation has to be also part of the equation.
34:30 JB - Has there been strict conservation in the oyamel butterfly sanctuaries up to this point?
34:36 GC - I think strict conservation was the intention of the original decree and I think to some extent that has happened but since the communities around these areas, ehh, the owners of these resources have not been compensated in any way ahh obviously it¿s difficult to exclude them from using their own resources. So that¿s the main problem with enforcing the decree as it is right now. That the decree created a social problem, ahh, but the solution that from our point of view has to do with some way of compensating these
people never occurred.
35:18 JB - And so what kind of compensation needs to occur to help satisfy some of the peasants who live around there and need to benefit from the forest?
35:30 GC Well it can be seen in many levels, many levels, I would say the the easiest way to think about conse ah ah about compensation would be in terms of buying the logging rights ahh so that the income that the communities obtain from logging , you know, would be coming from some kind of a scheme that would prevent logging and yet generate resources for these people.
36:03 JB - And when we¿re told that the deforestation in the Oyamel forest is really not that bad? Umm would you agree?
36:11 GC - Well if we look at some of the numbers it seems that deforestation hasn¿t been as bad as it has been in other parts of mexico especially in the tropics where you have deforestation rate as high as two per cent. Annual deforestation which is quite high. Here we¿re talking about a much lower rate of deforestation. Our main concern in the Oyamel forest is forest degradation. So it¿s not a question of quantity of forest laws, but a loss of quality. 36:42 and that is particularly relevant to the butterflies that depend very much on the microclimatic conditions created by these forests. And as the forest gets degraded by thinning, (background noise) then this, this psychological requirements are simply not there.
37:03 JB - (lip smack) uh, and finally, ah, you¿re a mexican, you¿re an ecologist, you¿re a nature lover. Do Mexicans love these monarch butterflies?
37:17 GC - Well, judging by the numbers of people visiting the sanctuaries and how this increases year after year I would say yes, people are very very attracted to this animal and ahh (JB steps on him here)
37:27 JB - are they willing to step up to the plate and fight for them?
37:30 GC - that¿s what we¿re gonna see. Ahh, I think , I think they will eventually, but right now we¿re not seeing any signs of , you know, people , getting organized and being more vocal about this. But I think that, you know as the media picks up on this redesigning of the decree we might see more support than we think.
37:51 JB - Do you think most Mexicans who care about the butterflies understand that
this habitat is threatened?
38:01 GC - No I think that is the main problem that people don¿t don¿t see this as as as an area that is threatened and that protection is required.
38:09 JB -They see millions of butterflies and they figure looks fine to me.
38:14 GC - Right, I mean they don¿t even know that there¿s a reserve. I mean most people don¿t even know this is a reserve. When you go to the areas, in some (pause) places you do see signs and you get the information that you¿re in the reserve. But I would say for most people, as far as they¿re concerned they¿re just going out to a forest near Mexico City to see the butterflies, (pause) which is really a missed opportunity. Because once people are there, you can really talk to them about the forest, you can talk to them about the butterflies, you can educate them about, you know conservation issues and in that way perhaps get more people, ahh in ? a step out conservation of the area. 38:52
39:29 AMBIENCE ROOM NOISE STARTS NOW
41:23 (some rubbing sound is present)
41:34 SILENCE RESUMED
41:58 car noise in background
42:08 silence resumes 42:11
42:17 rubbing noise, baby crying, horn honking horn again
42:38 LEO- okay so much for that. By the way, I¿m recording this split track I¿m using a noiman KMR 81 I and that¿s the microphone I¿m speaking to on the left side and now on the right channel I¿m using a Shure SM 85. And that is that.