The Bermuda Monarch Conservancy (BMC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Bermuda's monarch butterfly
colony and to the promotion of environmental awareness and education in the community.
BMC's mission is to establish
and maintain a network of monarch groves across the island, facilitate monarch conservation awareness and education, and promote
public/private partnerships and tourism in Bermuda.
BMC's activities began in January 2003. Since then, BMC has
established an experimental grove and assembled a team of local partners and donors.
BMC's activities are organized
around three programs - Adopt a Grove, In the Classroom, and MonarchTalk - and made accessible to all through this web site.
Bermudamonarch.org is our main communication channel with
you, parents, children, teachers, gardeners, walkers, butterfly watchers, naturalists, and prospective partners and donors.
Here you'll find information you can use on our current activities, and children will discover plenty of (and expanding) resources
on monarchs and milkweed.
Status Report 2015 by Cecile
Ten years after the launch of
MonarchTalk, it's a lot of fun to take stock of what's happened to our objectives.
Let's take a look in the rear view mirror, and observe how "the way things were" looks
from our new vantage point, and where we stand now.
In short, in the last 12 years, the Bermuda Monarch
Conservancy has turned into one of the kinds of non-profits I like best, i.e., it's been adopted by,
and transferred into the hands of the community. And we can account to our
donors with some funds left that still keep us going, and our joint objectives having been met.
First, the objective to raise
community awareness of the monarch population, and of the need to help it
prosper, has been reached.
schools do more than ever plant milkweed in their school gardens, and they
typically include the monarch life cycle into their primary level curriculum.
Same with the Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo classroom. Schools' and teachers'
requests for emergency seeds and seedlings still dribble through in
years of shortage.
- The introduction of the aurea milkweed,
a golden yellow variety suited to our climate, and its distribution to the Wedco and Tulo Valley public plant nurseries proved instrumental. For those
of us keen on behavioral economics, it proved to be THE nudge
for our green thumb island. It was perceived as taking the weed out of the milkweed, and turned it into a desirable
ornemental flower. It's now everwhere, in private gardens
as well as in plant nurseries.
- MonarchWatch USA paid us a visit. While I was
MIA, The Museum's
team took them on a tour of their wonderful site and exhibitions and they discussed the lessons learned at the Maritime
Museum grove (more on that later). As you can
imagine, they never complained about this special trearment. BTW, I believe I still have a rain
check I'd like to draw for a private tour of the Casemates!
- The Bermuda National
Trust gave us a green award to recognize and further our community awareness
We're gladly taking indirect credit for the butterfly mania that has seized the island through
larger scale and maintenance-intensive projects: 1/ The Botanical
Gardens have created a butterfly garden with a large milkweed and monarch representation; 2/ The Aquarium, Museum,
and Zoo have also added a small butterfly garden for monarchs next to their classroom; and
3/ Brighton Nurseries have built a butterfly house, also with milkweed and monarch activities - I am pleased
to direct inquiries for seedlings over there when I run out.
Second, from what I've just said, you can infer that our monarch population is
thriving - goal reached!
Third, we've learned some
valuable lessons - a bit of "failure gives useful insight"
a Grove did not work out (but was replicated by the community). For a couple
of reasons. First, milkweed patches attract so many butterflies that you need
the proximity of more nectar/flowers so butterflies
stick around and offer a tourist attraction than you
can sustain throughout the year. Not something we could achieve on
public access land in Bermuda due to maintenance logistics and cost conditions.
Second, milkweed patches are susceptible to being decimated by our invasive snail species - the Maritime Museum grove was lost for this reason. So, two risks
materialized. Although a sunk cost, the groves were a
great launchpad for the project and proved valuable in this regard. The
island has now butterfly gardens at the Botanical Gardens, the Aquarium, and at Brighton Nurseries. So these public and private organizations validated the concept, and
both the community and tourists get to enjoy monarch gardens.
- MonarchTalk is obsolete as a communication platform (but was
not essential). Not that it was cutting edge when we started - blogs existed - but clearly if we
needed to continue the discussion, we'd have other vectors in mind. Not a loss in as much as we
did not collect data, and interestingly enough we have not needed to. Although
you can't take the quant out of the girl, I planned for the data to
be used as a support to galvanize action more than as an analytic tool. This website, the
buzz it generated, the introduction
of the aurora variety, the groves, the National Trust award, all of this
taken together seems to have driven the results.
Clearly, we also rode the wave of increased
awareness of, and conservation efforts for the monarch butterfly
and its migration in North America and Mexico - the right place at the right time.
Finally, a few words on the people who
contributed to BMC:
- Dr. Charlotte Andrews now heads
the St. George's Foundation - quite
a task for this UNESCO World Heritage site.
little volunteer in the pictures below, Aydan Prime, is entering a prestigious
East Coast university in the fall - I'd like to believe that BMC gave her a subliminal love for
all things beautiful and meaningful and green; Lori has developed a fantastic green thumb; and
we'll have the shovel ready for Dan at year-end to trade for his tennis racket...
And last but not least, thank
you to the XL Foundation.
We have created MonarchTalk for everything-monarch that's Hot to Post!
a (relatively) interactive bulletin board where you can send us your comments, questions, stories, ideas, or notes on your
gardening and monarch sightings. We'll post online your emails and the feedback they receive from other participants.
Make MonarchTalk yours - it is your community's small online forum to exchange tips and ideas. Check out below how
it will look.NEWS AND CALENDAR
- The Bermuda National Trust becomes a Grove Partner. Steve Conway, BNT's Executive Director, and Dr. David
Wingate are enthusiastic and encouraging. We're grateful and excited to plant the experimental grove at Paget Marsh.July
2003 - The XL Foundation becomes our founding donor. Thank you.November 2003 - The Bermuda
Maritime Museum becomes a Grove Partner. November 2003 - Hurricane Fabian assessment at the Paget experimental
grove: we'll need to fix it in the spring.March 2004 - We've been hacked! Some of you may have noticed pyschedelic
colors on our web site and other random oddities. Sorry!April 29, 2004 - The Bermuda Monarch Conservancy will receive
a Bermuda National Trust Award on May 27. The Bermuda National Trust Awards are presented annually to individuals, organizations,
groups and schools who have worked for the benefit of Bermuda and its people, to preserve places of beauty or historical interest,
buildings, artifacts, lands and animal and plant life, and to promote their appreciation.May 8, 2004 - Maritime Museum
planting; 10:00 am onward inside the Keep. Cars are needed to transport the milkweed from the greenhouse in Devonshire to
Dockyard. Please contact us!May 13, 2004 - Many thanks to the Maritime Museum Crew! Look at our crew in the 4 pictures
below, courtesy of Charlotte Andrews, the Museum's curator.2005 - Official launch of MonarchTalk: watch this space!