Across North America, populations of the iconic Monarch Butterfly are in steep decline. The brilliantly-coloured Monarch is a summer breeder in many areas of southern Canada, and most Canadian-born adults head to the highlands of central Mexico to overwinter. It takes four to five generations of Monarchs to make it to Canada during the spring migration. In 2016, the Committee for the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) listed the Monarch Butterfly as Endangered.
The population decline is likely due to a combination of threats: habitat loss, use of herbicides and pesticides and climate change. Monarch require both milkweed (the host plant of the Monarch caterpillar) and other wildflowers (a source of nectar) across the breeding range and migration routes.
The Canadian Wildlife Federation believes that there are thousands of hectares of potential habitat for pollinators available that could make a difference to Monarchs in Canada. Much of this potential habitat is already in public hands, such as parks, roadways and rights-of-way. The methods to create and manage meadow habitat are well known and tested in areas outside of Canada. Restoring meadow habitat is relatively inexpensive, and managing it over the long term could actually save millions of dollars. As such, we formed a partnership with the National Capital Commission, HydroOne, and Lanark County to experiment with various restoration methods.