California Biodiversity Network to protect state’s natural heritage

California Biodiversity Network
A savannah sparrow perches atop a coastal bush lupine at Bodega Marine Reserve. Image: Clayton Anderson

California is home to more species of plants and animals than any other state, accounting for roughly a third of all species found in the nation. But intensive agriculture, resource extraction, habitat loss, invasive species, dwindling water supplies, and a changing climate pose imminent threats to these natural riches.

With this in mind, the UC Natural Reserve System has joined a new coalition of organizations formed to conserve California’s biodiversity. The California Biodiversity Network will bring together scientific institutions, universities, conservation and stewardship organizations, tribal governments, museums, and other experts to help the state protect its world-renowned natural heritage.

The Network is a key part of California’s strategy to preserve its biodiversity and combat the climate crisis. On October 7, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order directing the state’s Natural Resources Agency to consult with stakeholders to guide California’s climate and conservation work.

California Biodiversity Network
Coast live oak at Emerson Oaks Reserve. Image: Lobsang Wangdu

The partners in the California Biodiversity Network  will conduct research in support of biodiversity protection, coordinate conservation efforts, and train tomorrow’s environmental leaders. These efforts will involve establishing a baseline of California’s biodiversity and inventorying current biodiversity efforts, analyzing and projecting the impact of climate change and other stressors on the state’s biodiversity, and expanding the use of tools used to track and protect biodiversity and natural resources. Partners will also “advance multi-benefit, voluntary and cooperative approaches that project and restore biodiversity while stewarding natural and working lands, building climate resilience, and supporting economic stability.”

“We’re elated that the governor recognizes the huge challenges ahead to tackle climate change and protect biodiversity, and we are at-the-ready to assist,” says Peggy Fiedler, executive director of the UC Natural Reserve System and a cofounder of the network.

In accordance with an international campaign, the governor’s order also commits California to achieve protection for 30 percent of the state by 2030, joining 38 countries pursuing similar goals at a global scale. The California Biodiversity Network will help develop specific statewide strategies and policies in alignment with the “30 by 30” goal, with the aim of combating ecosystem destruction and species loss in coastal and terrestrial regions.

California Biodiversity Network
Desert tortoise at Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center. Image: Lobsang Wangdu

“We’re excited to offer the resources of UC Berkeley’s Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity and our Natural History Museums—in addition to the expertise of researchers across the University— in support of achieving California’s ambitious biodiversity goals,” says David Ackerly, dean of the Rausser College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley, and a cofounder of the network.

“From the establishment of Yosemite National Park in 1890 to this new executive order from Governor Newsom, California has a long history of conservation leadership,” said Jon Jarvis, chair of the advisory board of the Institute for Parks, People and Biodiversity. “The University of California, Berkeley, and the Institute for Parks, People and Biodiversity—as partners in the new CA Biodiversity Collaborative—will be providing the best science behind the conservation strategies to achieve not only 30% but ensuring those protected lands are resilient to climate change and accessible to all Californians.

The network’s founding partners include natural history museums such as the California Academy of Sciences, land trusts and conservancies such as Pepperwood, the National Park Service, California State Parks, and the University of California.

California Biodiversity Network
Bristlecone pines at White Mountain Research Center. Image: Wendy Baxter

“Meaningful progress in the fight to address climate change and biodiversity losses can occur only through deep, cross-sector collaboration,” says Dr. Scott Sampson, executive director of the California Academy of Sciences and cofounder of the Network. “The California Biodiversity Network has potential to become a global model for how to engage in this critical work, and the California Academy of Sciences is proud to be a lead partner.”

“Pepperwood is proud to join this collaborative to help scale up large landscape solutions for biodiversity conservation in the face of a changing climate,” says Pepperwood president and CEO Lisa Micheli.

Each network partner will utilize their own technical expertise and resources to further efforts to protect biodiversity. For example, museums will make their collections available to help assess the state’s baseline biodiversity. Tribal members might provide insights into traditional land management practices fostering ecosystem health. Scientists will research how ecosystems respond to wildfires, climate change, and other environmental stressors, and analyze large, often crowd-sourced datasets to advise the state on conservation decisions.

California Biodiversity Network
Seabirds and pinnipeds rest atop rocky islets alongside Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino Reserve. Image: Wendy Baxter

“Whether the state needs data collection, analysis, public outreach—we are prepared to respond quickly. The California Biodiversity Network has a deep bench with a broad range of talent to provide whatever expertise may be requested. Our mission is not only to advise on science, policy or outreach, but also to help train the next generation of diverse conservationist scientists, too.” Fiedler says.

About the UC Natural Reserve System

The UC Natural Reserve System is a library of ecosystems throughout California. Most of the state’s major habitat types are represented, from coastal tidepools to inland deserts, and lush wetlands to redwood forests. No other network of field sites can match its size, scope, and ecological diversity. The NRS offers outdoor laboratories to field scientists, classrooms without walls for students, and nature’s inspiration to all.

Additional links

“Newsom launches innovative strategies to use California land to fight climate change, conserve biodiversity and boost climate resilience,” Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

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