Science and conservation at SDBG made an enormous leap forward in 2022, growing to a portfolio of 20 active projects and engaging with over 60 partner organizations. We initiated 15 of these projects in 2022 and brought four new staff members onboard to support and ensure project success. We conducted over 120 days of fieldwork from as near as the local canyons of Encinitas to as far as the Modoc Plateau in northeastern California, as well as the Andean highlands of Peru. We collected 133 new conservation accessions, published nine research articles and planted close to a thousand native plants at environmental restoration sites nearby. What a year!

2023 is already flying by, following the previous year of growth in science and conservation with yet another. Looking ahead, we will continue to focus our efforts on three major areas of impact around San Diego and further afield: California native plants, medicinal plants, and food and agricultural plants. All efforts are aimed at conserving, raising awareness about, increasing access to, and making wise use of plant diversity.

We are thrilled to be starting at least eight new projects this year, including expanded partnerships with the Bureau of Land Management to survey and conserve rare California native plants in San Diego and Imperial Counties, research collaborations to strengthen plant conservation across the nation’s botanic gardens, and begin several new projects focused on native oak conservation. Among the most exciting is the opportunity to participate in a scientific research program focused on rare plants funded by the National Science Foundation, whose central purpose is to engage in mentorship with the next generation of plant scientists.    

Our science and conservation programs are coming to take shape as three major areas of emphasis: California native plants, medicinal plants, and food and agricultural plants. Some of our current and upcoming projects are described below in this newsletter; further details are available on our project highlights page. Many of these projects are innovative in the ways they merge efforts that are conventionally done in isolation – conservation combined with education, habitat protection with horticulture, and wild plant botany with food security. They are similarly exciting in the ways they bring together local, state, and national agencies and governments, like-minded community and nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, Native American and other Indigenous communities, and industry partners to work for people and for the planet. We are honored to be partners in these programs. 

While we celebrate this growth, we are keenly aware that there is so much more to be done around San Diego and further afield to help conserve, raise awareness about, increase access to, and make wise use of plant diversity. There are so many challenges, interrelated and ever compounding, from biodiversity loss to climate change, food insecurity to environmental degradation. Thus we recognize that our impact must further increase substantially. And, so, we continue to look for ways to form stronger relationships with science, conservation, and funding partners, together proposing a range of ambitious initiatives that can only be done in collaboration across organizations with complementary strengths. We offer expertise and enthusiasm in conservation horticulture; seed banking; rare plant and habitat surveying, monitoring, and collecting; characterizing, evaluating, and distributing plants; environmental restoration; conservation planning; and science outreach and education. We are continually learning and cultivating curiosity as we cultivate plants. We can’t wait to dig into another enormous year.