Michaux’s Sumac (Rhus michauxii)

Earlier this week, I was able to make it to a few days of the Southeast Partners in Plant Conservation Conference at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. It was really inspiring to see such a big crowd working toward plant conservation in the South.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the entire meeting, but there were a few take-home messages I left with that have particular relevance to the South Atlantic:

  1. Many botanical gardens are now working on large-scale ecosystem restoration in areas not already owned by the garden. One particularly exciting thing is that they’re seeing success in getting their existing donor base to help fund these “off-site” efforts.
  2. Lack of appropriate disturbance is one of the biggest problems in plant conservation for the region. We spent much of the meeting talking about a very long list of at-risk plant species. Almost every one needed disturbance to create the openings they needed to persist.
  3. Work to incorporate plant conservation into the Blueprint has not gone unnoticed. During a plenary talk, which included a slide showing the Southeast Conservation Strategy (SECAS) Blueprint, the South Atlantic got a specific shout out for incorporating plant conservation (great job, Vivian!). You might remember that the resilient biodiversity hotspots indicator, and its use of geophysical settings, is one of the ways the Blueprint identifies key places for rare plants in the face of climate change. You might also remember that plant communities and specific rare plants are included in the indicator testing process. If that’s not enough, there’s also an in-progress project to further improve how the Blueprint incorporates a number of rare and range-restricted plants and herps.