To save something, you have to know it exists.
Seems obvious, but it’s not so simple when we’re talking about plants. Despite California’s rich history of botanical exploration, millions of acres remain a mystery. And even on land that is familiar, what grows at the time of one biological assessment may not be detectable (at least above surface) 5, 10 or 20 years later. Today, however, we have a chance to know – and save — more than ever before. Californians are discovering new native species at growing rates, and plants once believed to be extinct are being found. Thanks to conservation and scientific breakthroughs, we are just beginning to unlock the clues our native plants may hold for climate change, global pandemics, and even life in space.
But with development and population at all-time highs, we are now in a race against time to understand our natural resources before we pave over or otherwise destroy them for good.
A map for the future
Forward-thinking conservationists and leaders understand these realities and have rallied experts throughout the state to participate in what is known as regional planning – multi-stakeholder efforts to determine what land is developed and what land is set aside. At its best, these decisions are made using the best available science concerning our water, soil, animals, plants, and other critical resources. And that’s where the Important Plant Area Initiative comes into play. Region by region, CNPS is working with a network of science and land-use experts to build the state’s first comprehensive map of the plant places we most need to save and why. Once completed, this valuable tool will serve as a definitive, scientific guide for generations to come.
CNPS staff and volunteers sampled coastal vegetation at the California Coastal National Monument.
In the northeastern corner of California between Mt. Shasta in the west and the Warner Mountains in the east, lies a massive volcanic plain known as the Modoc Plateau.
Soon, in Carpenter Valley, more than 1,000 acres of lush meadow and forest will be protected by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and an easement held by The Nature Conservancy.