Wednesday, August 5, 2015

From Birds to Butterflies: Partner Spotlight on Monarch Joint Venture

Monarch in Michigan courtesy of platteter
For many of us, the sight of ducklings in park ponds or butterflies fluttering around a garden marks the transition of spring into summer. In many instances, these animals continue to have a presence in our lives because Joint Venture efforts are pulling partners together.

What is Joint Venture?
The origin of the Joint Venture model of conservation is rooted in wetlands and waterfowl management. Started in the mid-1980s, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan was a new approach to migratory bird conservation. It worked by creating regional partnerships that protected and enhanced habitat for priority bird species within specific geographic areas. Fostered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Joint Ventures were found to be efficient and effective at bringing together the right people, science and resources to turn waterfowl conservation goals into realities.

From Birds to Butterflies
Though an insect, the migratory nature of monarchs made the Joint Venture model a natural fit. In 2008, the North American Monarch Conservation Plan was released by the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. The plan recognized that monarchs confront numerous perils across the 3,000 mile expanse of their migration between their breeding grounds and overwintering grounds. From habitat loss and pesticide use, to the reduced availability of milkweed to sustain growth and development, the plan outlined that it will take the collective efforts of stakeholders in Mexico, the United States and Canada to move the needle on monarch conservation. In December of 2008, Monarch Joint Venture was formed to help bring together partners in the lower 48 states of the country.
Housed at the University of Minnesota, Monarch Joint Venture is currently at the center of monarch conservation, education, research and monitoring. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is one of numerous federal, state and nongovernmental agencies partnered with Monarch Joint Venture in an effort to protect monarchs and pollinator habitat across North America.  The vision of the partnership is to return declining monarch populations back to a healthy size and in doing so help sustain the habitats used by a diverse array of pollinators, plants and animals. Though Joint Ventures are historically associated with wetlands and waterfowl conservation, Monarch Joint Venture demonstrates that an insect can be at the heart of a national conservation partnership.

Get Involved
Interested in supporting monarch conservation work? Visit monarchjointventure.org to learn how you can be involved in the citizen-science efforts and training workshops available to the public.