What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity, or biological diversity, refers to the many types of life—from ecosystems to species to genes. California, as home to more species of plants and animals than any other state in the nation, is a global biodiversity hotspot. Our state’s residents and economy depend on biodiversity and the complex ecosystems that make up our landscapes and seascapes. And although California has managed to avoid sizable declines in biodiversity, threats to our ecosystems are taking their toll. The Golden State has more threatened species than any other state in the U.S.
What does agriculture have to do with biodiversity?
California’s farmers and ranchers are worldwide leaders and innovators in food production. They are also among the foremost stewards of California’s working lands—providing ecosystem services and supporting biodiversity. Our farmers and ranchers undertake many practices to enhance biodiversity – from planting pollinator species, growing cover crops for soil health, avoiding practices that disrupt nesting of bird species, providing winter habitat on rice fields and helping endangered species thrive to participating in large-scale habitat corridors, to name a few.
What is the California Biodiversity Initiative?
In 2018, then-Governor Jerry Brown launched the California Biodiversity Initiative (CBI) to secure the abundance and richness of native plants and animals in California under current and changing climate conditions. The goal is to preserve our state’s biodiversity by integrating biodiversity protection into the state’s environmental and economic goals and efforts. Executive Order B-54-18 directed the Secretaries of Food and Agriculture and Natural Resources to implement CBI and to achieve goals consistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Executive Order also calls for all state agencies to work together in reaching these goals.
Concurrently with the Executive Order, the California Biodiversity Initiative Roadmap was issued, which outlines long-term steps for achieving the initiative’s goals. The Roadmap identifies the need to develop a baseline understanding of the current status of California’s biodiversity. Additionally, it highlights that management and conservation activities should integrate protection and preservation of biodiversity, and that lands and waters should be restored and protected to meet the initiative’s biodiversity goals. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife also supports implementation of the CBI.
CDFA activities related to the California Biodiversity Initiative
One of the co-benefits of the Healthy Soils Program is enhanced biodiversity on working lands. HSP supports farmers and ranchers through incentive payments for cover crops, hedgerows and other conservation plantings.
Soil Organic Carbon Mapping Project
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is undertakng the development of a soil organic carbon map for California. CDFA is looking to engage interested parties to provide early feedback as the map develops. The map will serve as an indicator of soil health as California takes multiple actions to sequester carbon in agricultural soils to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As part of this process, CDFA will develop a data repository system for soils data submitted to CDFA’s Healthy Soils Program.
Stakeholder workshops and public comment period were conducted in May 2020 to engage interested parties. Relevant documents are available below.
CDFA's Biodiversity Videos