Monarch butterflies may be in trouble due to the degradation of a forested region in central Mexico that serves as critical habitat for the migratory species during the winter. The first scientific study of the habitat found that in the past 30 years, the forest has been transformed by illegal logging, cattle grazing, farming, and development, even in areas that have been designated as protected monarch sanctuaries. The study by an international team of researchers has not yet been submitted for publication, but it has been given to the Mexican government, which responded last week by proposing a three-fold expansion of protected areas. The government is also trying to work out a system by which local people would be compensated for the loss of logging rights in the area and for helping to protect and restore the forest. Locals are unhappy with plans for an expanded preserve.

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