Protecting and Promoting Biodiversity

Carrizo Plain wildflowers featuring desert candles (Caulanthus inflatus) and Phacelia sp.; Image: Pete Brommer

Where the Stakes are High

With the greatest plant diversity in the nation, California belongs to one of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots. But according to a February NatureServe report, California now has the highest concentration of plant species at risk of extinction in the U.S., and the stakes are higher than ever. This year, CNPS responded in kind with the launch of the Biodiversity Initiatives Program, leadership in the 30×30 Power in Nature Coalition,  and legislative advocacy geared toward protecting and promoting California’s renowned plant diversity.

Powerful Support for 30×30 in California

Working with the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and the Power in Nature Coalition, CNPS helped to advance the critical target of protecting 30% of California’s lands and waters by 2030. Through public testimony, press events, comment letters, grassroots advocacy, and lobbying, CNPS worked to ensure California’s Pathways to 30×30 strategy included the world’s strongest criteria for “conserved areas,” the incorporation of California’s Important Plant Areas, investments in science, and a commitment to equity and Tribal sovereignty.

In December, CNPS joined the California delegation of public officials and non-profit leaders to advocate for 30×30 and Important Plant Areas at the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity (COP15), where 195 nations signed the international 30×30 agreement.

Read more:

Protecting California’s renowned plant diversity

Reflections on the U.N. Global Biodiversity Conference

Pathways to 30x30 report cover
The State of California Pathways to 30×30 
United Nations Environment Programme

The scientists underlined to us that this is our last chance to act. Unfortunately, we have no planet B.

– Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme

Advocating for Change

Change is hard-won, and we don’t do it alone. This year, CNPS worked with a wide range of partners — from conservancies and other non-profits to legislators — to create lasting impact.

Fire in Yosemite National Park; Image: Adobe
Fire in Yosemite National Park; Image: Adobe


CNPS and partners successfully advocated for a 2022 budget trailer bill to increase accountability and visibility into CAL FIRE’s
1 million-acre fuel treatment plan. The agency is now required to provide detailed project information on its website along with a monitoring and evaluation framework to assess efficacy and ecological impact.

Power in Nature


As a leader in the Power in Nature coalition, CNPS partnered for the successful passage of Assemblymember Ash Kalra’s bill requiring the CNRA to produce an annual report on California’s progress towards its 30×30 goal.

Deegrass (Muhlenbergia rigens) outside the CNRA building in Sacramento; Image: CNPS
Deegrass (Muhlenbergia rigens) outside the CNRA building in Sacramento; Image: CNPS

Native Plant Landscaping

In February, CNPS became the proud sponsor of Assembly Bill 1573, Assemblymember Laura Friedman’s transformative legislation to create California’s first requirement for the use of low-water native plants in public and commercial landscapes.

A different look at wildfire

Wildfire is one of the most complicated and misunderstood natural phenomena in California. Both science and traditional ecological knowledge show us that the best way to reduce extreme wildfire is to work with it, not against it, using prescribed fire, cultural burning, and other ecological measures. In fact, many native plants need wildfire to germinate and thrive. With generous support from The Seaver Institute, the CNPS Fire Followers projects brought these lessons to life by engaging people across the state in a multi-year community science project to document the plant diversity that occurs following wildfire. Thanks to continued support from The Seaver Institute, CNPS was able to extend its work to document fire followers in 2020 wildfire areas and add 2021 wildfire locations, as well. The first Fire Followers project ended this year with more than 150,000 observations, far surpassing its original goal of 100,000.


Fire Followers observations

Fire Followers at the sites of the Bobcat, French, and Silverado fires; Images: Jose Esparza Aguirre

Bloom! California in action featuring a logo by Lesley Goren, design vignettes by Miridae, and more!

A “bright tomorrow”

This spring, CNPS completed its three-year Bloom! California campaign, a partnership between CNPS, nurseries, growers, and other partners to increase native plant sales statewide by 20%. The campaign was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service, a block grant program best known for campaigns like the famous California raisins, wine, and almonds. With the tagline, “Native plants for a bright tomorrow,” Bloom! California was the first of its kind to promote native plants as a specialty crop.

More than 100 nurseries and growers participated in the integrated marketing effort, which included nursery point-of-sale marketing and events, educational materials for customers, integrated digital marketing, and sample design vignettes created by Sacramento-based Miridae. Thanks to an incredible group effort, the campaign knocked its original goal out of the park by doubling sales across the original control group. A huge thank you to the many nursery and non-profit partners, water agencies, Loacom marketing, and our logo-designer, artist Leslie Goren who together made the campaign a resounding success!

Bloom! California’s Impact




sales increase


Plants sold

Spring in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park; Image: Emily Sluiman
Desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata) in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park; Image: Emily Sluiman