The monarch butterfly is one of the most iconic species in North America and its annual migration cycle is one of the most remarkable natural phenomena in the world. However, during the past 20 years, the monarch butterfly population has declined by over 80% throughout much of its range. The primary factor in this decline is the loss of critical breeding and overwintering habitat in North America.
In response to this threat, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) established the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund (MBCF) in 2015 to protect, conserve and increase habitat for this species. The program is a public-private partnership administered by NFWF that receives funding and other support from the Monsanto Company, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The MBCF invests in projects that improve the availability of high-quality habitat and also increase the capacity needed to expand conservation efforts into the future. It achieves this by awarding competitive grants focused on supporting two primary strategies:
1) Increase the Quality and Quantity of Habitat
The goal of this strategy is to create and sustain a connected patchwork of monarch butterfly habitat across the species’ range to support its annual life cycle and migration. Emphasis is placed on restoring and enhancing land to support ample milkweed and nectar plants as well as overwintering habitat. In addition, this strategy includes work to ensure adequate supply of native milkweed and nectar-producing plant seed or plugs that support habitat restoration efforts.
2) Enhance Outreach and Organizational Coordination
The goal of this strategy is to increase capacity and coordination among organizations, states, and regions engaged in monarch butterfly conservation. Grant funding supports work to develop regional strategies and plans, build capacity and expertise, maximize information exchange, and distribute information about on-the-ground conservation practices.
Eligible recipients of MBCF funding include non-profit organizations, federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies, educational institutions, and international organizations.
Since 2015, the MBCF has awarded $7.3 million to 47 projects that are helping conserve and recover the imperiled monarch butterfly. Grantees have matched this investment with an additional $12.2 million, for a total on-the-ground impact of more than $19.5 million. This investment has provided support for:
- 82,011 acres restored or enhanced
- 10,424 pounds of native milkweed and other forb species collected
- 522 workshops or meetings hosted