California Biodiversity Initiative: A Roadmap for Protecting the State’s Natural Heritage

The California Biodiversity Initiative was enacted by Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-54-18 in order to “improve understanding of the State’s biological richness and identify actions to preserve, manage, and restore ecosystems to protect the State’s biodiversity from climate change.”

$2.5 million of the 2018-19 state budget was allocated to launch the Initiative, which is considered an investment in not only the environment, but the state’s economy as well. Rather than ecosystem protections costing the state ultimately, biodiversity enhances economic stability and growth through valuable services, such as advancing climate resilience.

One of the primary goals of the Initiative and Roadmap is to: Preserve ecosystems at the regional scale, with sufficient linkages, buffers and refugia to provide a robust future for all native species in the face of climate change. Some of the other primary goals of the initiative are to secure the future of all existing native California species, and ecosystem types; increase native species abundance and distribution, and improve ecological conditions and ecosystem functions.

The climate conditions and extreme events considered most impactful to California’s plants and wildlife include: increasing temperatures, increases in the frequency and severity of extreme events - including drought and wildfire, ocean warming and acidification, shifts in precipitation patterns, and sea level rise inundation. The report describes how temperature changes create a series of cascading effects by altering predator-prey relationships, causing fluctuations in food and water supplies, and in turn range shifts or population decline.  Scientists have already observed range shifts in almost 3/4 of small mammals in California and over 80% of bird species surveyed. Coastal areas including wetlands, bluffs and intertidal habitat are at risk of sea level rise, and typically surrounded by development are prevented from natural inland migration.

These immediate steps or short-term Goals identified for the Initiative are considered in three broad categories: Understand, Protect, and Manage.

To better Understand the status of the state's biodiversity, some of the primary goals are to update the official “Atlas of the Biodiversity of California,” which was published in 2003; survey and map all plants and vegetation in California; and the Department of Food and Agriculture will establish a Soil Carbon Map of California.

Part of the short-term goals to Protect biodiversity is that the “California Department of Transportation and Department of Fish and Wildlife will update a 2010 statewide assessment of essential habitat connectivity.”

One of the current goals to Manage for biodiversity entails the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) identifying financial and regulatory support needed for agricultural and working lands to retain long-term productivity, and to support resilient food production under changing climate conditions.

The Roadmap portion of the Initiative contains seven focal areas with strategic actions to achieve long-term goals for the future of biodiversity conservation in California.  The seven focal Areas are:

    1. Help Government Coordinate on Biodiversity Goals
    2. Improve Our Understanding of California’s Biodiversity
    3. Improve Understanding and Protection of the State’s Native Plants
    4. Manage Lands and Waters to Achieve Biodiversity Goals
    5. Restore and Protect Lands and Waters to Achieve Biodiversity Goals
    6. Educate Californians About Biodiversity
    7. Prioritize Collaboration and Partnerships


Publication Date: September 1, 2018

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