Boosting California’s Unique Wildlife and Ecosystems

Kit Fox

California is among only 34 biological “hotspots” in the world — regions prized for the variety of plants and animals living there. California supports more species than any other state and has the greatest number of endemic species in the nation — those living nowhere else on earth. More than 20% of all amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals in California are imperiled.

Diversity is crucial to the health and resilience of natural systems. The plants, animals and other life forms in any ecosystem have adapted to living together over thousands of years. The loss of one element affects an entire system in ways people cannot predict. And, the diversity of plants and animals provides the genetic material for new varieties that can better adapt and survive.

People benefit directly from diverse ecosystems and a healthy food web. Yet California’s irreplaceable biodiversity is continually threatened by urban development, invasive species, climate change and other disturbances.

What We Focus On

Sustainable Conservation makes it easier and more cost-effective for private landowners and businesses to protect and restore diverse ecosystems so wildlife and humans can thrive. We focus on the two biggest threats to biodiversity:

  • The destruction and degradation of natural habitats; and
  • Introduction and spread of invasive plants.

Creating Habitat for Vulnerable Wildlife

Because more than 50% of California is privately owned, the fate of many vulnerable species depends on how farmers and ranchers manage their land and water resources. Sustainable Conservation partners with diverse stakeholders to identify ways private lands can be better managed to meet both environmental and economic goals. Sustainable Conservation:

  • Prioritizes California’s most biologically rich and vulnerable landscapes, as well as particular species that need help; and
  • Promotes conservation practices and secures funding to advance stewardship efforts in priority areas.

Safe Harbor Agreements: Sustainable Conservation brings government agencies, scientists and landowners together to create safe harbor agreements, which enable landowners to help vulnerable wildlife without jeopardizing how they use their land.

Tricolored Blackbird: As part of a diverse alliance of environmental, agricultural and government leaders, we helped lead a first-of-its-kind strategy to rebuild populations of the imperiled Tricolored blackbird with the help of landowners.

Funding Assistance: Sustainable Conservation helps landowners secure funding and technical assistance for on-the-ground conservation projects.

Protecting Wildlands and Wildlife from Invasive Species

photo of poppy field

Invasive species are a leading threat to biodiversity in California and also cause significant economic impacts. They clog waterways and can lead to increased flooding, fire and crop damage. The economic cost is as significant as the ecological cost: more than $35 billion per year nationally in eradication costs and economic losses. In California alone, $85 million in taxpayer funds go to fighting invasive plants and animals every year. Sustainable Conservation identifies root causes of invasions and brings together key stakeholders to identify solutions to stop invasive plants at the source.

PlantRight: Sustainable Conservation’s PlantRight campaign brings together leaders in the nursery industry, along with scientists, government agencies and environmental groups, to find collaborative solutions to California’s invasive plant problem. PlantRight aims to shift the horticultural community away from invasive varieties and toward economically viable alternatives that are safe for California's native ecosystems.