Biodiversity Conservation

San Diego is known as a biodiversity hotspot, containing greater diversity of life than any other county in the continental United States. It is also home to the greatest number of plant and animal species threatened with extinction anywhere in the country. 

What is a biodiversity hotspot?

Biodiversity simply refers to the immense variety of life on the planet.  It can be considered at many different levels, from the variety of genes found within a species, to the number of species found within an ecosystem, to the number of ecosystems found within a landscape.

A biodiversity hotspot is a region that contains at least 1,500 endemic plants – plants that exist nowhere else on the planet, and one that has lost at least 70% of its original habitat.  In other words, it is region that contains extraordinarily high levels of biodiversity that are also facing extraordinary threats.

Threats to San Diego’s biodiversity include climate change, invasive species, fire disturbances, and habitat loss and fragmentation driven by human activities.  

 Why is biodiversity important?

The variety of life on the planet sustains humanity in myriad ways, including:

Provisioning of food, fresh water, fuelwood, fiber, and biochemicals used for medicine; water and air purification; climate regulation; pollination; disease regulation; erosion control; regulation of water flow; regulation of extreme weather events; soil formation and retention; cycling of elements critical to life (ie: nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus).

When we understand our interconnectedness with and dependence on the natural world, it is easy to understand how the current extinction crisis puts us all in peril.


What is Earth Discovery Institute doing?

EDI is committed to various projects that promote biodiversity in San Diego County. One of our key endeavors is restoring 15 acres of cactus scrub habitat at El Monte Ecological Preserve. This habitat supports various local species, including the Coastal Cactus Wren—a California Species of Special Concern. EDI has also planted 188 coast live oaks at El Monte Ecological Preserve to replace invasive eucalyptus trees. California oak woodlands host a rich variety of wildlife, housing over half of the state's terrestrial vertebrate species. Furthermore, we have installed a large "bat hotel" to provide essential roosting habitat for several bat species, particularly the locally listed Pallid Bat and Townsend's Big-Eared Bat.

In our commitment to preserving biodiversity, we also maintain a small native milkweed farm to support Monarch Butterflies. The milkweed from our farm is used to create monarch butterfly gardens in people's yards, forming a network of monarch habitat throughout San Diego County, contributing to conservation efforts, and empowering our local community to actively participate in preserving the natural environment.

Join us in positively impacting our environment and fostering a sustainable future for San Diego County. Together, we can create a thriving ecosystem that benefits wildlife and our community.


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