Home Forum topic Climate Change Panel Questions: CPC National Meeting What specific policy changes would protect rare plants facing climate threats?

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    Katie HeinemanCPC Conservation Officer

    Please summarize your group’s responses in the replies below.

    Holly ForbesCPC Conservation Officer

    Expanding land conservation, provide space for plants to shift location.

    In the FL Keys there are many at-risk endemic species, at some point it will be difficult to protect them in situ. There is a good paper by Maschinski et al in 2011 that discuss some options / actions. A big thing will be enabling assisted migration. There are regulations against this at the moment.

    Promoting the inclusion of Plants in State Wildlife Action Plans is something we are promoting in the SE. They are going to be eligible for additional funding if they have SWAPs with plants if RAWA.

    Include plants in discussion about “wildlife”


    Heather SchneiderCPC Conservation Officer

    ·         Improving NPS policies to make it easier to do conservation work, especially for collections-based work like seed banking

    ·         Improving the federal ESA to have more teeth for protecting plants, especially on private lands and to consider climate as major threats to plants

    ·         Cutting carbon emissions in general

    ·         Policies that limit habitat conversion and destruction in wildlands


    Angela PaiCPC Conservation Officer

    Grazing management, protecting ecological corridors for native species migrations, evidence-based fuels management.

    Cheryl BirkerCPC Conservation Officer

    In our breakout group we discussed how, unfortunately, we’re needing to shift from policy trying to avoid climate change to policy trying to adapt to it. One issue we discussed is that it isn’t enough to protect plants in-situ, as they could become mal-adapted to their native habitat in the face of climate change. There is so much left to be learned about assisted migration before we can think about recommending it to policy makers, but it seems like this is where we are headed. One thing that would be great is if we could improve climate models and use them to develop more predictive tools for assessing a species’ threatened status. We shouldn’t have to wait for a species to lose a critical amount of it’s populations for it to be protected.

    Christa HornCPC Conservation Officer

    Some of the major topics from our breakout group include:

    • at the federal level, including plants in the legal definition of “wildlife”
      • currently variable between states, and impacts funding
    • availability of emergency funding to follow up post disaster events
      • restore when needs known
      • survey and seed collect when restoration needs unneeded or unclear
        • time is of the essence for fire followers
      • research in both cases
    • regarding assisted migration:
      • funding for research to know how/when appropriate
        • specifically genetic research to understand population structure/dynamics to guide assisted migrations
      • policies that remove barriers to moving rare plants to new locations when they are deemed appropriate
    • policies that incentivize native plant use (especially post weather event) and disincentivize use of built infrastructures
      • federal, state, county/parish, local ordinances


    Jennifer NealeCPC Conservation Officer

    Our breakout room discussed the need for equal protection for plants under the ESA. We discussed how plants are not afforded the same protections – such as distinct population units.

    We also discussed other ways to engage with those making policy decisions such as through the 30 by 30 program. We also talked about potential policy to protect species that occur across international borders whether it be Canada or Mexico.

    Emphasizing protection for specific habitat types (such as Alpine, wetland) would also be useful.

    Kim SchaeferCPC Conservation Officer

    One type of policy we agreed would be very helpful, and fairly simple to enforce, is a ban on noxious weeds from being sold in plant nurseries. In Southern California, I have seen fountain grass invade entire canyons, from the mountains to the desert, and they’re still selling it at every Lowes I’ve ever been to! These invasive grasses easily spread out of people’s yards and are terrible for accelerating wildfires.

    Especially because I live in California, I think better communication between botanists and firefighters would be extremely beneficial. If we can inform them exactly where the rare populations are, they can prioritize those areas when a wildfire comes through. Generally, the public and politicians are probably more likely to listen to firefighters than us, so it would be great to get them on the same page about plant conservation so that they can advocate and work on our behalf.

    David RemucalCPC Conservation Officer

    Development of conservation easement programs around more states, especially ones that are easy to participate in

    Push FEMA policy change to allow scaling of relief funding targeting. At this point FEMA is a first response to big climatic events but the scale they work on wouldn’t really allow addressing the needs of single species or locations. They could become a very effective tool for helping address specific population events quickly if they could be persuaded to scale their responses more.

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