Dr. Emily B. Roberson, National Plant Conservation Campaign
Plants are second-class conservation citizens. People often overlook or ignore plants in their environment, even in natural areas where animals tend to receive the "lion’s share" of attention. Sadly this problem is widespread among policymakers. Even many environmental groups often overlook native plants in their work. As a result, plants are discriminated against in every aspect of law, policies, staffing and budgets for science and conservation. The Native Plant Conservation Campaign (NPCC) was created to combat these problems. The NPCC is a national network of Affiliate plant conservation groups including native plant societies, botanic gardens and others. In 2017, the NPCC passed the 50 Affiliate mark and now represents more than 350,000 native plant enthusiasts. The mission of the NPCC is to promote the conservation of native plants and their habitats through collaboration, education, research and advocacy. This presentation will describe the NPCC, our approach to native plant conservation advocacy, and our plans for 2020 and beyond, including programs to encourage use of locally adapted native plants in landscaping and land management, increase staffing and funding for plant science and conservation, and strengthen legal protections for imperiled plants. The presentation will also discuss the growing understanding of the ecosystem services delivered by native plant communities, such as water purification, erosion control, storm protection, pollinator habitat, and buffering of climate change. In recent years, our understanding of the breadth of these services and of their importance to human societies and economies has increased tremendously. This offers new tools effectively to communicate the importance of native plant conservation to audiences that traditionally have been difficult to reach. Even those not interested in native plants for their beauty or inherent value may support conservation and restoration of native plant communities when they learn that it can save $100s of millions in hurricane damage, $billions in water treatment costs, improve public health and save lives.