Save Plants, Save the Planet, Save Ourselves

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San Francisco County Fair Building

1199 9th Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94122

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Native plant ecosystem services and how they can fix almost everything

Speaker: Emily Brin Roberson

People who think that native plants give us beautiful wildflowers plus habitat for pollinators and other wildlife are correct. However, native plants offer much more than attractive landscapes. Native plant communities also deliver ecosystem services that are essential to the health and security of human societies and economies. In recent years, ecologists and economists have documented the enormous flow of invaluable ecosystem services from plant communities. These include food security, soil fertility, waste disposal, pest control, and human health itself.

Researchers repeatedly find that native plants offer more effective and less expensive responses to challenges, such as water storage and purification, climate change mitigation, and erosion and flood control, than traditional concrete-based approaches. Native plants even reduce the incidence of childhood asthma. Native plants are becoming more important as climate change, nonnative species, and other threats continue to destabilize our environment.

As understanding of ecosystem services expands, people around the world are conserving and restoring native plants to improve the resilience of their local communities. Philadelphia, for example, has chosen to spend $2 billion for a mosaic of native dominated wetlands to control flooding. Protected watersheds in the Catskill Mountains deliver 1.4 billion gallons of clean water each day to nearly 9 million people in New York City.

In this talk, we shall explore ecosystem services and how locally adapted native plant communities supply them. We shall also review examples of how people are using native plants to confront the increasingly severe environmental threats facing humanity.

Emily Brin Roberson is the director of the Native Plant Conservation Campaign, a national network of more than 50 native plant societies, botanic gardens, and other native plant conservation organizations. The mission of the Native Plant Conservation Campaign is to promote the conservation of native plants and their habitats through collaboration, research, education, and advocacy. Previously, she was Senior Policy Analyst for CNPS for 11 years. She then directed the Campaign as a project of the Center for Biological Diversity before launching the Campaign as an independent organization. She holds a BS magna cum laude in plant ecology from Harvard University, an MS in soil science from UC Davis, and a PhD in soil microbial ecology from UC Berkeley. She worked as a researcher in plant and soil sciences for 10 years before joining CNPS.


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San Francisco County Fair Building

1199 9th Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94122

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