California Rare Plant
Communities Initiative

A rare yellow-cedar community. Credit Michael Kauffmann.

Mapping and monitoring delicate habitat

Vegetation types (or plant communities) provide key ecosystem services by maintaining water cycles, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and providing habitat for rare plant and animal species. Given this, the degradation of rare plant communities 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 degradation of rare plant communities can disrupt the integrity of the ecological functions of our natural environments

The inherent values of vegetation have lead scientists and conservationists to make use of vegetation patterns as a surrogate for ecosystems. Through its rare plant communities initiative, CNPS uses a multi-step process to identify, inventory, map, and track rare communities throughout the state. The main objectives are to:

  • Utilize and expand existing methods to identify, sample, and map rare communities
  • Identify new processes to document and protect rare communities
  • Identify funding for future work in key regions and habitats of the state (e.g., Central Coast and maritime chaparral vegetation, riparian and wetland vegetation)
  • Train/assist local CNPS and other partners on using our existing and new processes
  • Analyze existing and new data to better describe rare vegetation
  • Update rarity ranks of rare, threatened, and endangered vegetation
  • Provide useful descriptions and maps of rare vegetation with other agencies
  • Develop conservation measures and strategies

Find out more about the RPC Initiative by reading our Position Statement.

Partner Organizations:
Bay Area Conservation Lands Network
Sonoma County Vital Lands Initiative

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Field Updates

Bigcone bark and views across the San Gabriel Wilderness.
Bigcone bark and views across the San Gabriel Wilderness.

Bigcone Douglas-fir

Serotinous cones of Santa Cruz cypress
Serotinous cones of Santa Cruz cypress. Photo from CalPhotos by G. Monroe

Cypress

yellow-cedar community
A rare yellow-cedar community. Photo: Michael Kauffmann

Yellow-cedar (p. 9)

Sampling Pygmy forest. Credit Todd Keeler-Wolf.

Pygmy forest

Carpenter Valley plant sample
Carpenter Valley plant sample

Fen-meadows

Guidelines for Mapping<br />
Rare Vegetation

Guidelines for Mapping
Rare Vegetation

CNPS-developed guidelines
for your use in the field.

Credit

Reports

Reports

CNPS Mapping & Classification Reports

Credit Julie Evens

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