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Calypso bulbosa var americana, New England

(c) Jessie Harris

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(c) Priscilla Titus

 

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Native Plant
Conservation Campaign
 

PMB 151
1459 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

Phone: 415 970 0394 
e mail: Emily Roberson
Director, NPCC
 

 

 

 

Cactus (c) David Tibor

(c) David Tibor

 

 

fritillaria pluriflora.jpg (15507 bytes)

(c) John Game

 

 

 

 

(c) Susan Meyer

 

 

 

 

 

Dyssodia pentachaeta, Grand Canyon AZ

(c) Lori J. Makarick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildflowers, California Coast

 

 

Equal Protection for Plants

 

Background Information and Materials:

NPCC Special Report: Legislative and Budgetary Barriers to Native Plant Protection

Equal Protection for Plants Campaign

Equal Protection for Plants Sign-on Statement

SIGN the Equal Protection Statement (ORGANIZATIONS ONLY PLEASE. This is not an individual sign on letter)


House Legislation Protecting Wildlife From Climate Change Excludes Plants

See our Press Release

Read our LETTER to Congress

Read the legislative language excluding plants.

It is in the Global Warming Wildlife Survival Act  section "Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act". See highlighted portions in particular.

Read the full Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act:
Go to the Library of Congress. Search for H.R. 3221 and click "H.R.3221.PCS" -  the version placed on the Senate Calendar

______________________________________

For Immediate Release, September 18, 2007

Contact: Emily B. Roberson, Center for Biological Diversity Native Plant Conservation Campaign, (415) 970-0394

Plant Science and Conservation Groups Ask Congress to Add Plants to Legislation Protecting Wildlife From Climate Change

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today the Native Plant Conservation Campaign, Ecological Society of America, Botanical Society of America, American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and the American Society for Horticultural Science sent a letter asking Congressional leaders to add provisions to protect plants to new legislation designed to help wildlife survive threats from global climate change.

The Native Plant Conservation Campaign is a program of the Center for Biological Diversity. The campaign is a network of 38 native-plant societies, botanical gardens, and other plant science and conservation organizations representing more than 80,000 individual plant scientists and enthusiasts nationwide.

The request addresses the Global Warming Wildlife Survival Act, a section of the Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act. The legislation passed the House this summer and may soon be considered by the Senate. The Act contains groundbreaking provisions that would direct federal agencies to develop strategies to assist wildlife affected by global warming. But it does not allow the agencies to develop strategies for the thousands of plants also at risk from climate change.

“While we applaud this step forward in addressing the impacts of climate change on wildlife, the most effective conservation strategies must be designed at the ecosystem level — to include plants, wildlife, and their habitats,” said Dr. Norman Christensen, president of the Ecological Society of America. “Because of complex interactions among species, it is imperative to employ protection for plants as well as wildlife to ensure the health of ecosystems and their resilience to climate change.”

“Plants are the foundation of life on this planet, and critical to human welfare,” said Dr. Emily Roberson, director of the Native Plant Conservation Campaign. “Through photosynthesis, plants generate the oxygen we breathe and create the fuel for life. Their roots help clean the water we drink, and they supply foods, fibers, medicines and countless other products and commodities we depend on for survival, jobs, and economic security.”

"Horticulturalists value native plants, not only for their aesthetic value in the landscape, but for their present and potential contributions as medicinal plants and new crops. In addition, native plants worldwide are an important source of genetic diversity for breeders of both ornamental and crop plants," said Dr. Mary Peet, president of the American Society of Horticultural Science.

Scientists are already identifying numerous plants that may be lost to climate change. These include delicate mountain wildflowers like the deep-yellow snow buttercup and bright blue sky pilot as well as alpine forest types like spruce/fir in New England — all of which may disappear completely as mountaintops warm. Coastal plants are also at risk as sea levels rise. Some mangrove forests, for example, may be wiped out, causing serious problems in areas like Florida where mangroves have protected coasts from hurricanes and floods and created habitat essential to multi-billion dollar fisheries and other industries.

The omission of plants from the Global Warming Wildlife Survival Act is part of a broader trend. Plants are often treated as “second-class conservation citizens” in the United States; funding and legal requirements for their conservation are substantially lower than for animal species. Nearly 60 percent of species listed under the Endangered Species Act are plants, but less than three percent of federal endangered species funding goes to plants.

One example is the federally funded Wildlife Action Plan program, which provides money for state species and habitat conservation projects. More than $400 million was disbursed by the program between 2001 and 2006, but not a dollar went to plants since federal law explicitly prohibits states from using Wildlife Action Plan funds for plant conservation (unless such conservation comes as a byproduct of "wildlife" conservation projects).

“No scientific evidence supports the contention that meaningful conservation of wildlife or habitats can be accomplished in the absence of vigorous plant conservation,” said Roberson. “If it is to achieve its goals, this landmark energy legislation, like all conservation laws and policies, must provide equal protection for the plant kingdom.


 

Plants Receive inferior protection under the Federal Endangered Species Act and other Laws. These policies undermine the effectiveness of biological diversity conservation programs in the United States.

The Native Plant Conservation Campaign has released a Special Report detailing the barriers to effective plant conservation under federal laws and policies. These barriers include:

  • Imperiled plants are  less than half as likely to be listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act as imperiled animals 
  • Plants receive only 3% of total recovery spending for federally listed species.
  • The Federal Endangered Species Act provides inferior protection to plants than to other species 
Read the full Report: Barriers to Native Plant Conservation in the U.S..

These outdated policies fly in the face of biological reality. Science tells us that plants and animals are inextricably intertwined and contribute equally to the health and survival of the ecosystems that sustain us all. If we are to conserve healthy ecosystems and biological diversity, we cannot pick some species to save and ignore others.

Horowitz Fringed Gentian OH.jpg (62165 bytes)
Fringed Gentian, OH
(c) Ami Horowitz
Glandularia bipinnatifida.jpg (38982 bytes)
Glandularia
bipinnatifida, NM
(c) Robert Sivinski

Equal Protection for Plants Campaign

The Califonia Native Plant Society and the Native Plant Conservation Campaign have launched an Equal Protection for Plants Campaign. Our longterm goals are to amend FESA, improve budgets, and change state species protection laws where necessary, to provide plants with the same protections and recovery opportunities that are currently provided to other listed species. We have launched a public education campaign and a petition drive to build support for this idea.  Your organization can SIGN ON to the Equal Protection for Plants statement (below)

Fact Sheets:


Open Letter calling for Equal Protection for Plants under the Federal Endangered Species Act

Plants and animals contribute equally to the stability, health, and functions of the ecosystems on which we all depend for survival. However, plants and animals are not treated equally under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Federally listed plant species are among the rarest and most imperiled species in our nation. But although the Federal Endangered Species Act prohibits the unauthorized destruction or even harm of Federally listed animals everywhere they occur, it allows many listed plants to be killed, without limit, on non-Federal lands, except in restricted circumstances*. In fact, some plant species can be knowingly driven to extinction without violating the Federal Act.

Lesser protection for plants is unsupportable biologically. It disregards our current understanding that plants and animals are inextricably intertwined in the structure and functioning of healthy ecosystems.

Unless plant species are protected from extinction as vigorously as animals, efforts to conserve biological diversity will inevitably fail. Plants and animals depend upon each other for food, habitat, indeed for their very survival. We cannot arbitrarily pick only one kingdom to protect. Ecosystems cannot survive with only one group or the other.

For these reasons, the undersigned organizations urge that the Federal Endangered Species Act be amended to provide the same protection for plants that it currently provides for animals through all of its policies, programs, and penalties.

Signed (as of October 5, 2007),

  • California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA
  • National Parks and Conservation Association, Washington D C
  • Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, DC
  • American Lands Alliance, Washington DC
  • Endangered Habitats League, San Diego, CA
  • Endangered Species Coalition, Washington DC
  • Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, Sacramento, CA
  • Pacific Rivers Council, Portland, OR
  • California Botanical Society, Sacramento, CA
  • Oregon Natural Resources Council Action, Eugene, OR
  • Sequoia Forest Alliance, Weldon, CA
  • Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment, Hayfork, CA
  • Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers, Missoula MT
  • Forest Issues Group, Grass Valley, CA
  • Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation, Georgetown, CA
  • Whidbey Environmental Action Network, Seattle, WA
  • Oregon Natural Desert Association, Portland, OR
  • Grassroots Environmental Effectiveness Network, Washington DC
  • Center for Biological Diversity, Tuscon, AZ
  • Society for Conservation Biology
  • Student Environmental Action Coalition, Normal Il
  • Defenders of Wildlife, Washington DC
  • John Wesley Powell Audubon Society, Normal IL
  • US PIRG, Washington DC
  • Florida Native Plant Society
  • Native Plant Society of Oregon
  • Texas Committee on Natural Resources (TCONR)
  • Washington Native Plant Society
  • Southern California Botanists
  • Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society
  • The Wilderness Society, Washington DC
  • The Sierra Club, Washington DC
  • Friends of Georgia, Inc , Stone Mountain, GA
  • North Carolina Wild Flower Preservation Society
  • Botanical Society of America
  • Society for Conservation Biology, Missouri Chapter
  • T&E Inc , Cortaro, Arizona
  • Utah Native Plant Society
  • American Society of Plant Taxonomists
  • Virginia Native Plant Society
  • Xerces Society
  • Center for Native Ecosystems,
  • North Carolina Botanical Garden
  • California Institute for Biodiversity, Walnut Creek, CA
  • Maryland Native Plant Society
  • Native Seeds/SEARCH, Tucson, AZ
  • Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin
  • Institute for Applied Ecology
  • Kauai Native Plants Society
  • Florida Native Plant Society
  • Botresearch USA
  • Longleaf Ecological, Whispering Pines, NC
  • Ticonderoga Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Chantilly, VA
  • Clean Earth Foundation, Chantilly, VA
  • Iowa Native Plant Society
  • WindStar Wildlife Institute, Meyersville, MD
  • Great River Greening, StPaul, MN
  • Herb Society of America
  • South Carolina Native Plants Society
  • Northside Greenspace Inc, Cincinnati OH
  • Minnesota Native Plant Society
  • American Society for Horticultural Science
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Division of Resources Management, MN

 

 

*Section 9 (a) (1) of FESA (16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.) gives animals full protection from destruction “within the United States or the territorial sea of the United States” or “upon the high seas”. But Section 9 (a) (2) (B) of FESA prohibits destruction of Federally listed plant species only on  “areas under Federal jurisdiction”. Plants also cannot be killed in knowing >violation of state law, while trespassing, or in violation of Section 7 of FESA which governs Federal agency actions.

Therefore, listed plants are only protected 

(1) on Federal lands or during activities that are funded, permitted, or carried out by a Federal agency and are therefore under Federal jurisdiction, or 

(2) in the unlikely event that it can be proved that they are destroyed in knowing violation of state law or during trespassing. 

Logging, housing development, mining, and other activities may all kill unlimited numbers of Federally listed plants, even cause extinction of a species, as long as the destruction does not meet these conditions.