By the Seed and by the Acre
We fight to save New England's native plants
The bad news: New England’s native plants and habitats are in trouble. We’ve lost more than half of our grasslands and coastal marshes, 10,000 dams on our rivers negatively affect plant health, and for the first time in two centuries, New England is losing forest. Because native plants compose the habitats for all animals, from black bears to black swallowtails, these losses ripple outward. Eventually, the impacts will shrink our food supply, sap our economy, and dim the beauty of our region.
The better news: People caused these problems, and people can fix them. Our region's conservation community is working to that end. But while other conservation organizations are fighting to protect land and water, we are the only one dedicated solely to New England's native plants—protecting and restoring rare species, and keeping common ones common.
Help us make some good news: Peruse these pages. Read our "State of New England's Native Plants" report, below, to discover which habitats are in crisis and why we need to conserve all native plants. Become a member. Stay informed through our free e-newsletter. Learn how native plants function to support all other forms of life.
State of New England's Native Plants
Read our groundbreaking assessment
Our land-use history and current practices are threatening the postcard beauty of New England—and the plants and animals that call this region home. In our comprehensive report, we look at the health of the region’s iconic landscapes, discuss the critical importance of plant diversity, detail the challenges facing both rare and common plants, and present strategies for conservation action.
This first-in-the-nation report draws on decades of fieldwork by our staff and the more than 1,500 trained volunteers and professional botanists in our New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP). It also incorporates the rich history of botanical research in New England, dating from the arrival of Europeans.
Insights from the report include:
- In New England, 22 percent of the
native plant species are globally rare, endangered or rare in multiple states,
or considered historic; 31 percent of plants on the landscape are non-native.
- Of the 389 imperiled species, 62 are
globally rare, and 10 occur nowhere else on earth (only 7 of our globally rare species remain). A single population of a
rare plant species may face as many as five different threats, most of which
arise from human activity.
- On average, rare plant species have
lost 67 percent of their known range in the region and are also rare in 38
percent of states and provinces outside New England in which they occur.
- Multiple threats, ranging from land
development to widespread pesticide use to invasive species, together undermine
the resilience of our native plant communities.
- Climate change is already affecting
New England plant communities and will accelerate if current trends continue.
Forest, alpine, coastal, and estuarine species are most at risk.
plants—the majority of native plants—are in particular trouble and are
declining along with the insects that pollinate and rely on them.
The report recommends both research and action to conserve and manage New England’s vibrant flora. As individuals, we can support native plants and their food webs in many ways: by advocating for stronger laws to protect sensitive habitats and rare species, planting native species in our landscapes, avoiding pesticides and herbicides, controlling non–native invasive plants on our land, and educating our children and communities about native plants and their ecological value.
Download "State of New England’s Native Plants" here:
Collaborating across the Globe
We extend our impact through national and international partnerships
Plants don't heed boundaries, so plant conservation organizations are more effective when they reach across them. As the recognized leader of native plant conservation in New England, we share valuable expertise, data, and strategies though professional networks at larger scales.
Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
In 2010, this initiative of the United Nations' Convention on Biological Diversity set 16 global targets to reach by 2020. We aim to achieve for our region the GSPC's country-wide targets and have incorporated them into our strategic plan. We have already accomplished some of these goals, including extensive documentation of our region's flora (Target 1) and a $5 million project—the Seed Ark—to collect and permanently store seeds from at least two-thirds of 3,300 populations of New England's 388 globally and regionally rare species (Target 8).
We are honored to be among the first small group of organizations worldwide to receive BGCI's accreditation as an Advanced Conservation Practitioner.
Center for Plant Conservation
In the 1980s, we co-founded CPC, which is dedicated to the stewardship of imperiled native plants, and today are one of its 57 participating institutions.
Native Plant Conservation Campaign
We are part of this network of native plant organizations throughout the U.S. that is focused on improving legal protections for plants and increasing funding for plant conservation.
Plant Conservation Alliance
We are a member of this public-private partnership, with a dozen federal agencies and hundreds of private affiliates, which developed the National Framework for Progress in Plant Conservation to coordinate a nationwide approach.
National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration
We are one of the nonprofit partners in this initiative, which includes a range of federal agencies and is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Seeds of Success
We recently spearheaded the eastward expansion of this BLM program, which previously had focused on collecting wild seed for restoration projects on federal lands in the western U.S.
North American Orchid Conservation Center
We are a partner of this Smithsonian Institution coalition of organizations across the U.S. and Canada working to conserve North America's 200-plus native orchid species. Its Go Orchids website is built on our Go Botany platform.
Can We Help?
Our Conservation staff members offer expert services to other organizations
Federal and state agencies, municipalities, land trusts, and other conservation organizations often turn to our expert staff to help with restoration, plant surveys, invasive plant control, and other projects.
Services We Offer
- Rare and common terrestrial and upland plants: survey, inventory, and mapping
- Natural communities: survey, inventory, mapping, and long-term monitoring
- Rare plant conservation: identification, long-term monitoring, and restoration
- Habitat assessment, management, augmentation, and restoration
- Invasive plant identification and management
- Development of conservation and management plans
- Training programs
- Consulting services.
We maintain general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
To learn more about our contract conservation services or to schedule a site visit, contact our Ecological Programs Coordinator: 508-877-7630 x3203.