Lichen Conservation

Lichen conservation is among the primary goals of the California Lichen Society.  Through our all-volunteer Conservation Committee, which works closely with the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) and the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), CALS has become the leader for lichen conservation in the southwestern United States.

The Conservation Committee works primarily toward defensible, science-based information on Lichens of Conservation Concern, but is also working on ideas for habitat-based conservation and possibly a set of important lichen areas akin to the Audubon Society’s Important Bird Areas program.

In developing the Lichens of Conservation Concern,  lichen taxa (e.g. species) undergo a detailed and cautious sponsorship process to understand taxonomy, biogeography, and threat before proposing ranks and lists.  Once accepted, a sponsorship is publicized for comment by experts, stakeholders, and the public.  Given that lichen biogeography remains less understood than vascular plants, a 1 year waiting period is almost universally required before the Conservation Committee makes a final decision on ranking and listing. California has some of the strongest conservation laws in the world. It also has a large and expanding population. To suit this environment, conservation status must be defensible!

This process does, however, put a lot of work on the shoulders of our volunteers.  The committee has 14 species listed currently – 11 of which have completed the sponsorship process; three were ‘grandfathered’ to List 3 (lichens about which we need more information) due to prior inclusion in the CNDDB and sponsorships are underway for those as of 2014.  The committee maintains a ‘brainstorm’ list of over 100 more lichens that deserve consideration.  At our current rate, it will take nearly a century to complete this list.  In other words – we need your help!  Contact the Conservation Committee chair and find out what you can do to further the conservation of lichens!

CALS also recognizes that by default, it represents an area larger than California. Sponsorships may cover other southwestern states as well (as in the case of Solorina spongiosa).

With thanks to the Mead Foundation, the CALS Lichens of Conservation Concern are now included in the CNPS Inventory! Click here for more information.

Click here for the Lichens of Conservation Concern.

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