Rare Plant Communities Initiative
A fen meadow in the Sequoia National Forest, 2010.
Through its Rare Plant Communities Initiative (RPC), CNPS is developing tools and training individuals/groups to identify and protect rare vegetation types as key units of biodiversity.
Vegetation types provide key ecosystem services by maintaining water cycles, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and providing habitat for rare plant and animal species. Conversion and degradation of rare vegetation types can disrupt the integrity of the ecological functions of our natural environments, leading to the loss of sensitive plant and animal species and a corresponding decrease in biodiversity. The inherent values of vegetation have lead scientists and conservationists to make use of vegetation patterns as a surrogate for ecosystems for many years.
With this Initiative, CNPS has begun a multi-step process to identify, inventory, map, and track rare communities throughout the state. The main objectives are to:
Mapping Rare Plant Communities
In February 2011, CNPS completed the Guidelines for Mapping of Rare Vegetation to assist in the development and standardization of rare plant community mapping throughout the state. We encourage you to download and use these Guidelines and to share your feedback so that we can continue to refine them during the 2012 field season. You can download the Guidelines for Mapping Rare Vegetation by clicking here or through our Vegetation Sampling, Classification, & Mapping page.
Recent updates of the Rare Plant Communities Initiative:
Fen Reports Finalized
A separate report for fens of the Lake Tahoe Basin was just finalized. You can view this fen report here, or you can access this and additional fen reports on our Reports page under the ‘Fen Vegetation, U.S. Forest Service Lands’ section.
Workshop & Efforts along the North Coast
Volunteer training. Photo by Todd Keeler-Wolf. view larger
Mendocino Cypress (Hesperocyparis pygmaea) Woodland Alliance. Photo by Todd Keeler-Wolf. view larger
In the fall of 2014, a collaborative agency-NGO-volunteer sampling and mapping effort was initiated in Mendocino County. More than 25 people came together to collect data to help define the associations of the Mendocino Cypress (Hesperocyparis pygmaea) Woodland alliance and to contribute to a map of this unique and rare vegetation type. This volunteer effort was made possible by the cooperation of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP), CNPS, and the incredibly knowledgeable local expert, Teresa Sholars.
In early 2015, volunteers were trained by CDFW and CNPS on the vegetation rapid assessment protocol, and they spent a week collecting data throughout the range of the Mendocino Cypress Woodland alliance. The goal was to capture a range and variety of surveys in the pygmy forests to better understand the diversity of the vegetation associations that occur here. Efforts continued by members of the Dorothy King Young CNPS chapter to collect more than 100 surveys. The compiled data was analyzed by VegCAMP to create a regionally specific classification of the pygmy forest vegetation types, and the pygmy forest vegetation types were mapped by regional CDFW staff in the fall of 2016. The products of this effort will help in the conservation of the rare Mendocino Cypress Woodland alliance and is an excellent example of how CNPS chapter members and partners can work together to identify and protect rare communities locally.
Previous Workshop News: