2 Butterfly Defenders Found Dead Within a Week in Mexico
Two men connected to a famous monarch butterfly reserve in Mexico have been found dead within a week of each other, raising concerns for the safety of environmental activists in the country.
Homero Gómez González, 50, who managed a butterfly reserve in Mexico's Michoacán state and campaigned against illegal logging in the butterflies' winter habitat, was found dead in a well on Jan. 29, BBC News reported. Three days later, part-time reserve tour guide Raúl Hernández Romero, 44, was also found dead on top of a hill in the El Campanario monarch butterfly sanctuary.
"How can you protect the butterflies if Homero Gómez or other people are not protected?" poet and environmental activist Homero Aridjis asked NPR.
Gómez González managed the El Rosario sanctuary, which is part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site, located in forested mountains around 100 kilometers (approximately 62 miles) northwest of Mexico City, is where more than half of eastern monarch butterfly colonies spend their winters. The butterflies travel all the way to Canada each spring and then back again in the fall. Because four generations of butterflies are born and die during this time, it is unclear how they know to find their way back, but they do.
"Every autumn, millions, perhaps a billion, butterflies from wide areas of North America return to the site and cluster on small areas of the forest reserve, coloring its trees orange and literally bending their branches under their collective weight," UNESCO described.
En el Santuario El Rosario Ocampo Michoacan “ El más grande del mundo “ https://t.co/WlCJuOcG4Q— Homero gomez g. (@Homero gomez g.)1578862606.0
But the butterflies' winter home is threatened by logging and the planting of avocado farms, according to NPR. Between 2005 and 2006, loggers felled 461 hectares in the area, The Washington Post reported.
Gómez González, a former logger himself, campaigned to protect the reserve and argued that tourism from the butterfly migration was worth more to the region than illegal logging. The El Rosario sanctuary he managed opened in November to help prevent logging, BBC News reported, and his family said he received threats before he disappeared Jan. 13.
His funeral on Friday was widely attended.
"I offer my condolences to Mr. Gómez González's family, his colleagues and all of those who, in Mexico and elsewhere, sometimes at the risk of their lives, work every day to protect this natural heritage which is shared by all of humanity," Director of the World Heritage Centre Mechtild Rössler said in a statement.
Gómez González was found to have received a blow to the head before drowning in a well, BBC News reported. His death was apparently not a robbery, since he was found with the equivalent of more than $500 in pesos, according to NPR.
Hernández Romero worked showing tourists around the El Rosario sanctuary, according to The Washington Post.
He was last seen Jan. 27 leaving his home, and then found dead Saturday after having been badly beaten with a sharp object.
Authorities are unclear if the deaths are connected to each other or to both men's work protecting the butterflies. However, The Guardian pointed out that there is a trend of environmental defenders being murdered in Mexico in conflicts with developers or criminal groups. Mexico's murder rate is also generally on the rise, BBC News reported. In 2019, the country saw its highest murder rate ever with 34,582 reported killed.
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People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>