Protecting Biodiversity

Using a holistic approach to keep our plant and animal communities healthy and resilient to climate change and our world-renowned biodiversity intact.

California is home to more species of plants and animals than any other state, and this biodiversity – the variety and variability of life – accounts for about one third of all species found in the nation. Of the estimated 5,500 plant species found in California, 40 percent are found nowhere else on Earth! Our varied geography (i.e. highest and lowest points in the US) and proximity to the ocean and mountains are the foundation for this globally exceptional richness. But this biodiversity is increasingly at risk making us a global “biodiversity hotspot” – one of 36 places on Earth with exceptional concentrations of native species that are experiencing unprecedented challenges.

Conserving biodiversity in a state as large and complex as California requires the collective progress, creativity and wisdom of all of us. The California Natural Resources Agency has established the California Biodiversity Collaborative to help us meet this challenge and implement the Pathways to 30x30 Strategy. This platform brings together experts, leaders and community members who will help us build a unified, comprehensive strategy that engages and empowers all Californians to understand, protect and restore our biodiversity.

Watch our Secretary Speaker Series event about California's natural diversity and strategies to protect and expand our unique community of plants and animals.

California Biodiversity Initative

In 2017, a group of 26 scientific experts from across the state’s universities, herbaria, and conservation organizations created the “Charter to Secure the Future of California’s Native Biodiversity," a call to action to secure and recover the abundance and richness of native plants and animals in California, under current and changing climate conditions.  Governor Brown responded by launching the California Biodiversity Initiative in 2018. The goal of the Biodiversity Initiative is to secure the future of California’s biodiversity by integrating biodiversity protection into the state’s environmental and economic goals and efforts.

Site Logo for the California Biodiversity CouncilThe California Biodiversity Council (CBC) was formed in 1991 to improve coordination and cooperation between the various resource management and environmental protection organizations at federal, state, and local levels. Strengthening ties between local communities and governments has been a focus of the Council by way of promoting strong local leadership and encouraging comprehensive solutions to regional issues.


Interested helping preserve biodiversity? All you need is smart phone and the iNaturaist app. Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed. iNaturalist shares your findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe.

Under a comprehensive strategy, state and federal agencies are working to rapidly improve conditions for endangered Delta smelt, which are close to extinction. 

Found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Delta Smelt are near extinction. The strategy represents a management shift for state and federal water and wildlife agencies, which are addressing multiple stressors on Delta smelt in a systematic way while studying the synergy of the actions. In total, there is 13 near- and mid-range actions aimed at creating better habitat, more food, and higher turbidity, along with reduced levels of weeds, predators, and harmful algal blooms to help reduce mortality of Delta smelt and boost the rate at which the fish grow, reproduce, and survive.

The latest science shows potential extinction for many of California’s native salmon and steelhead species over the next several decades, if present trends continue. State agencies have committed to a suite of actions to improve survival rates, including restoring habitat, improving stream flow, removing stream barriers and reintroducing species to ideal habitat.