CNPS Announces New Projects to Scale Up Native Plant Production and Habitat for Pollinators

Monarch butterflies at the California Botanic Garden; Image: Deb Woo

March 5, 2024, SacramentoToday, the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) introduced two projects, funded through the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), to boost California native plant production and support pollinators statewide. 

Totaling nearly $1.9M, the cooperative agreements will allow CNPS to create science-based, publicly available tools for native plant propagation protocols and critical biodiversity data. The resources will be integrated into CNPS’s popular native plant website, Calscape.org, enabling gardeners, farmers, and landscape professionals to design resilient habitats that enhance ecosystem stability and function.   

“Supporting our plant-pollinator relationships is an urgent priority for anyone who relies on the food chain, which is all of us,” said CNPS Executive Director and ecologist Dr. Jun Bando.  

According to a 2023 NatureServe report, California now has the most plants and pollinators at risk of extinction in the United States. In a state that is home to 40% of North America’s native bee populations and 13% of the nation’s agricultural industry, the consequences could be dire.  

“The good news is that we can actually do something about this crisis,” added Bando. “Habitat loss is one of the primary factors driving biodiversity loss in California and across the globe. By planting the right native plants in the right locations, Californians can restore helpful species to public and private landscapes, complementing wild habitat for migrating and residential pollinators.”  

Once the new projects are completed, both professionals and amateurs will have access to detailed information on the biodiversity benefits of individual plants and be able to prioritize planting choices for their overall impact on ecosystems. For example, someone could search which plant or combination of plants provides habitat for an endangered local butterfly or a native bee crucial for crop pollination. People will also be able to find specific instruction and resources for propagating those high-value plants and other California native plants. Important for agricultural users, the work will help identify native plant species to attract pollinators in the state’s great agricultural regions, including California’s Central Valley, Sonoma County, Owens Valley, and Coachella Valley.  

“We have the science that tells us what’s needed, but we were lacking the tools to make that information useful at a scale that can make a difference,” said CNPS Horticulture Program Manager Ann-Marie Benz.  “Thanks to CDFA’s support, millions of people will be able to access information on how to produce, select, and grow helpful species. Together, we can literally plant a living patchwork across our working lands, neighborhoods and urban areas that supports the web of life.” 

The new propagation protocols and plant-pollinator data will be publicly available on Calscape.org in early 2027. A new version of Calscape will launch this spring to help prepare for future updates. 

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