Statement of Policy - Nonvascular Plants
Adopted March 1992 (PDF Version)
Concerns Relating to Conservation of Nonvascular Plants
The California Native Plant Society is concerned that nonvascular plants (cryptograms) such as lichens, algae, fungi, mosses, and liverworts are not usually considered as a biological resource by resource agencies or other lead agencies in California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) or General Plan Law documents.
By their ubiquity, abundance, and diversity, nonvascular plants are an important component of the California flora. Many occupy habitats inhospitable to vascular plants and may be the only plant organisms that occupy certain sites.
These plants, macro- and microscopic, are critical and essential within the integrated ecosystems. They provide habitat, forage, and refuge for terrestrial and aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates. They modify soil or rock substrate which may allow other plants to attach and grow, thereby increasing the potential diversity of habitat. They reduce organic material and enhance uptake of nutrients by other plants, perhaps serving as symbionts, and fix nitrogen that becomes available to other organisms.
Nonvascular plants have been reduced in number, diversity, abundance, and range (as many species in natural areas) by the reduction in habitat area. Aquatic (freshwater and marine) and terrestrial (desert, forest, grassland, scrub, chaparral, and woodland) systems have all been affected to some extent by human activity and all contain nonvascular plants. Some groups of nonvascular plants can be used to indicate the environmental health of an area. Population changes of some species may be valuable for measuring the effects of human activities on the environment. For example, the loss of lichens may indicate increased air pollutants. The loss of mosses may suggest a decrease in soil moisture. A change in the relative abundance of algae may indicate chemical or temperature changes of water.
With these thoughts in mind, the CNPS makes the following policy statement concerning nonvascular plants.
The California Native Plant Society: