Sessions

The conference will be composed of sessions, groupings of talks that focus on a particular theme or topic. As a multidisciplinary effort, our conference aims to nourish professionals and plant lovers across four tracks: conservation, plant science, horticulture and education. Our sessions have been chosen and designed to support important dialogues, discoveries and inspiration across these four tracks. Each session is led by a session chair(s). For an overview of all sessions with title and description, view the table below.

TrackSession TitleSession Description
ConservationPrioritizing Conservation: IPA, RCIS, NCCPs, HCPs, Sensitive Natural Communities, othersResources available for conservation are insufficient to meet conservation needs. As such, innovative tools are required to ensure resources are efficiently allocated to the areas where they will have the most impact. Effective planning is essential to identify needs and prioritize conservation in the landscape from local, to regional, to statewide scales. This session will focus on the tools, strategies, and lessons learned that have the biggest impact.
ConservationCollaboration in the Age of Conflict: Working with Partners Across the NGO, Public and Private sectorsThe increasing scale and interrelatedness of conservation and resource management requires strong collaboration. This session will focus on case studies of effective multi-stakeholder partnerships, along with important lessons learned.
ConservationCalifornia State Conservation Context (30×30)In recent years, the state of California has initiated ambitious endeavors to conserve its biodiversity while adapting to a changing climate and other challenges, such as wildfire and the development of renewable energy. Initiatives like 30×30, the governor’s biodiversity executive order, and recent budget investments provide a framework for a sustainable future for the state’s natural areas and its human inhabitants.
ConservationJustice & Inclusion in Native Plant Conservation and Equitable Access to NatureLow-income and communities of color continue to have less access to nature and career opportunities in the conservation field. This session will showcase areas where the native plant conservation field can support movements to create more accessible parks, career pathways, and opportunities for those who have the least access to nature.
Conservation BIPOC PerspectivesThe CNPS BIPOC Group came up with the BIPOC Perspectives session in which BIPOC presenters could have a space to speak upon their experiences in the conservation community. The aim is to highlight BIPOC work and perspectives historically ignored in the conservation community.
ConservationLand Back and Comanagement with TEKColonization dispossessed indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands. The conservation movement in California is well positioned to support indigenous peoples gaining free, unfettered and undisturbed access to their lands. This session will cover #LandBack efforts, where indigenous peoples are advocating for and gaining access to their lands and co-managing them using traditional ecological knowledge. Learn about ways you can support and uplift the #LandBack movement.
ConservationSeeing the Forest for the Trees: Conservation in the Face of Timber Harvest and Fuel ManagementFire prevention and fire safety/resilience measures can have ecological consequences. Fuel breaks leave scars over acres of land, and sometime encroach into wilderness areas; thinning or fuel reduction can be too heavy handed, removing large, fire-resilient trees and compromising habitat for northern spotted owl and other species. Timber harvest, with its well established impacts, is tied up with fire prevention and resilience, as thinning projects done in the name of fire prevention or resilience often result in merchantable timber. This session will examine these intersecting issues and discuss California’s path forward as it balances the priorities of wildfire and conservation.
ConservationGood Fire: How Restoring Ecosystem Processes is Key to Ecosystem HealthAlthough often maligned in the media, much of California’s flora is adapted to fire and the restoration of this process is vital for conservation and ecosystem management. Prescribed fire and the cultural burning practices of Native Americans have great potential to ensure that habitats continue to be biodiverse, while increasing the safety of human communities.
Conservation Climate Change, Conservation Science, and Adaptive ManagementClimate change poses novel risks to species, from contributing to changing fire regimes, drought, the spread of invasive species, and influencing shifts in the ranges for native species. This session will focus on climate change through the lens of conservation science, how this impacts management decisions, and how adaptive management is more important now than ever.
ConservationHabitat Loss Due to Infrastructure Projects (water, housing, renewable energy, etc.)Trade-offs exist in almost every aspect of resource management. However, well intended projects, such as utility scale renewable energy, housing developments, or increased water storage, often come at a cost to rare and endangered species and habitats. This session will focus on how often the perceived dichotomy of conservation v. development is actually true, and how many times there are alternatives where both goals can be achieved.

Plant ScienceVegetation Mapping & Monitoring (new & traditional technologies)Government agencies, NGOs, academic institutions, and consulting firms continue to improve standards, techniques, and resulting products of vegetation mapping — especially since Geographic Information Systems, imagery, LiDAR, and remote sensing technologies have expanded from the late 20th Century on through today. Vegetation mapping and monitoring are important tools for species, habitat, and landscape-level assessment, analysis, monitoring, and conservation, driving many of today’s decisions for land-use planning. This session showcases promising uses of vegetation mapping and monitoring to positively impact decision-making in conservation and management throughout California.
Plant ScienceUnveiling California’s Biodiversity through eDNA Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an emerging tool that is being used to examine geospatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity variation in order to learn about ecological processes such as wildfire, and to describe the complexity of microhabitats such as vernal pools. Here we explore achievements that have been made through analyses of eDNA in a plant conservation context, and discuss its potential advantages and limitations for biodiversity monitoring.
Plant ScienceConifers in the Face of Climate ChangeConiferous vegetation occurs from the Coastal zone (coast redwood, coastal cypress) to high-elevations (whitebark pine, bristlecone pine) and areas in between in the foothills and mountains (coastal Douglas-fir, Pacific ponderosa pine). The risks they face due to climate change, insects, and pathogens, intensive logging, large scale and severe wildfires, and other stressors are immense. This session focuses on research and management efforts underway today in California to examine the status and trends of coniferous vegetation in response to climate change and other interacting stressors.
Plant ScienceChaparral Resilience and Future Concerns Chaparral contains 24 percent of California’s native plant species, and more of these plants are considered rare here than in any other plant community. Since chaparral exists in every single county, chaparral represents the most accessible native plant experience to the greatest number of Californians and visitors to our state, and it provides unique research and educational opportunities. Due to the uniqueness of chaparral it presents major challenges to fire managers concerned with balancing fire hazard reduction and resource conservation. This session will explore the remarkable biodiversity, resilience, and value that chaparral provides to all the life forms and the need to address threats to vegetation type conversion in light of many global changes.
Plant ScienceOaks & Oak Woodlands Oak woodlands have been enduring anthropogenic threats since the state of California was formed in 1849. These threats include urban and agricultural development and ranching, fire suppression, and a mosaic of pressures – disease, drought, invasive species, and fire – associated with and exacerbated by fire suppression, unintended horticultural practices, and a changing climate. This session will examine critical California oak woodland habitats by exploring the science, policies, cultural burning, and other practices necessary to conserve, stabilize, and regenerate critical oak woodlands ecosystems in the face of ever-increasing social, climatic, and ecological pressures.
Plant ScienceGrasslands & Prairies California grasslands are among the most endangered ecosystems in the United States and are important subjects of ecological research and experimentation. This session focuses on native grassland research and management including biodiversity enhancement, invasive species, livestock grazing, and restoration within our unique California grassland/prairie ecosystems.
Plant ScienceFloristics The field of floristics covers the range of studies focused on documenting and understanding the components of the flora of a local area, a county, regions, to the entire state, and beyond. Floristics covers the basic components that supports a wide range of disciplines, from basic science to land use planning. Without understanding the flora, we are just guessing as to what the flora of a given area is, including the common and rare species.
Plant ScienceRare Plants Rare plants make up one-third of California’s native flora. They encompass nearly every habitat type and elevation range, are beautiful, and are important contributors to pollinators, ecosystem functions, and the rich biodiversity of the state. While great progress has been made at broader levels—families and genera— the California flora is still far from being understood at the species-level and it’s expected that hundreds of taxa have gone unnoticed by taxonomists; most of these will have narrow ranges and thus be more vulnerable to human impacts. Powerful tools are now available to describe and understand plant diversity in California, including a host of reduced representation sequencing methods, to understand fine-scale diversity and evolution.
Plant ScienceEffects of Fire Suppression & Fuels Management on Rare Plants California’s native flora, including rare plants, is widely assumed to be fire-adapted because fire has been a regular ecosystem disturbance process for millennia. Now that we are seeing dramatic effects of the Pyrocene period created by humans, there is a new urgency to understanding the roles played not just by fire in California ecosystems, but also the relatively recent syndromes of fuels reduction via prescribed burning and mechanical removal of biomass that serves as fuel; fire suppression tactics, including the wide firelines created by bulldozers and the aerial application of chemical fire retardant; and the challenges of post-fire restoration of landscapes, habitats and plant populations. We will examine these topics in this session, as well as taking a more nuanced look at the varied ways that plants adapt to fire through avoidance, resprouting, and long term seed banks dependent on fire cues for germination.
Plant ScienceGrazing & Rare Plants Compared to landscape- or animal-grazing interactions, there is relatively little specific work that has gone into the rare plant-grazing interaction. In conservation work, “grazing” is often used as a blanket term, obscuring the complexity of using grazing as a management tool to promote rare plant populations. Often the specific needs of rare plant species that “grazing” could address are unique to the species and require knowledge of both the ecology of the species and an understanding of current grazing practices. Issues of scale, location, infrastructure, and goals can further make grazing management difficult, requiring alternative solutions. Current work specific to grazing and rare plants is active with examples of both successes and failures. Discussion of ongoing work and encouraging further research is important for understanding long-term rare plant management and conservation.
Plant ScienceFire & Native Plants/Habitats (restoration or otherwise)For many native plants and plant communities, fire is an essential ecological disturbance process, and the use of fire in management including indigenous land management is essential for the health and longevity of forests, chaparral and so many other plant communities in Mediterranean California. This session will explore California native flora, vegetation and human relationships to fire.
Plant ScienceInvasive Plant Impacts, Monitoring, and Restoration Invasive plants are a major threat to native plant biodiversity in California. This session will highlight cutting-edge research and new techniques to prevent introduction, and scientifically manage existing infestations, of the most damaging invasive plants in California.
Plant SciencePlants, Habitats & Wildlife Interactions (Science and restoration)The relationships of plants and wildlife will be explored through plant/habitat – wildlife resource monitoring, functional assessments, and wildlife – habitat analyses. The effects of management techniques, restoration, and environmental impacts on plant/wildlife relationships including of plant–pollinator, plant–frugivore (seed disperser), plant–herbivore, and other complex, interspecific ecological interactions will be discussed.
Plant ScienceTraditional Ecological Knowledge & Land Management – Cultural Resource Restoration using traditional, science-based techniques Indigenous tribes of California have traditional ecological knowledge and relationships with the landscape that have developed over many thousands of years. These knowledge systems guide Indigenous land management today even though relationships have been suppressed or frayed due to European settlement and removal of tribes from ancestral lands over the past few hundred years. Through a relational understanding to natural resource management, Indigenous people implement varied cultural practices that protect human health and the environment. This session will highlight how Traditional Ecological Knowledge guides land management and restoration and provide examples of ethical and sustainable management of plants, animals and ecosystems through ecologically sound land stewardship such as cultural burning and wetland restoration that foster resilient and abundant resources across the diversity of habitats in California.
Plant ScienceBryology in California- Recent Advances in Understanding the Large Contribution of our Small Plants (mosses, liverworts and hornworts) Bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts) comprise more than 10% of California’s native plant species. This session focuses on our rapidly expanding knowledge of the floristics, biogeography, ecology and conservation priorities of these understudied but important native plants.
Plant ScienceInnovation in California Herbaria and Specimen Records Use This session is intended to include an array of presentations around the transformation of herbaria in the digital age, such as: new research conducted using specimen data, educational and outreach innovations undertaken by herbaria around digitization projects, progress made on the ethical, technical challenges presented by the digital age.
Plant ScienceSerpentine Soils: from Microbes to Landscapes Serpentine soils, high in heavy metals and low in nutrients, give rise to specialized plant communities adapted to thriving in these harsh conditions. In this session we show how serpentine soils shape the plants and lichens that inhabit them at multiple scales, including effects via microbes, seeds, pollinators, and regional-scale biogeography.
Plant ScienceCurrent Research (Student Session) This students-only session provides a venue to highlight research that focuses on the California flora. A number of topics will be explored in this session, including plant taxonomy, rare plant biology, and plant ecology of both native and invasive plant species.
HorticultureClimate Change, Fire, & DroughtThis session will discuss the strategies and solutions for native plant horticulture in the face of climate change, drought, fire, extreme storms, and other environmental challenges. We will examine the value of native plant horticulture in light of climate change.
HorticultureNative Plant Production & Sales Native plant gardening is one of the top trends in horticulture. To better serve and grow this gardening sector better coordination is needed across this industry. This session will include discussions on the importance of the grower and nursery sectors planning and communicating, including seed strategies, marketing, and production.
HorticultureLandscape Design with Native Plants Native plant landscapes provide a variety of ecological benefits and can beautifully fit a variety of design aesthetics. This track will examine best uses, emerging trends, and innovations in landscape design.
HorticultureSafety, Sanitation, Pathogens, & PestsThe susceptibility and resistance of native species will be evaluated through a combination of ecological techniques, population genetics, genomics, and management. This session will focus on pathogens and pests in horticulture and those currently threatening native California flora.
HorticultureRestoration & Conservation in HorticultureThis session will examine horticulture as a part of long-term conservation and for restoration. Sessions will discuss managing the recovery of a damaged or destroyed ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed through traditional ecological knowledge and scientific understanding, and how horticulture can support these activities.
EducationChanging Young Lives Through Outdoor Education Outdoor education for California’s young people is a vital way to foster empathy, understanding and passion for the natural world. Hear from outdoor educators who are leading programming and experiences for young people that cultivate these connections and fundamentally address aspects of outdoor access, equity and environmental justice.
EducationCommunity ScienceCommunity science is transforming our collective understanding of biodiversity by galvanizing and including communities at every level. As projects expand knowledge of native plants, they simultaneously expand our shared connections to the natural world. Session speakers will share strategies and approaches to designing, implementing and interpreting community science projects.
EducationSchool Gardens: Creation, Politics, Maintenance, Curriculum, and Activation School Nature Gardens serve as outdoor classrooms, living laboratories and community hubs centered around native plants. Powerfully, these gardens illuminate the beauty and value of students’ own communities, providing a gateway to biodiversity not miles away, but right at home. School Nature Gardens—and the opportunities they create through classes, extracurricular programming and professional development—have inspired generations of students to become scientists, policymakers, horticulturalists and beyond. Hear from School Nature Garden leaders about these vibrant landscapes and the strategies to cultivate and activate them.
EducationCentering DEIJ in Native Plant EducationNative plants are foundational to everyone’s well-being and are deeply rooted in the most pressing social issues of our time, from settler colonialism to environmental racism, outdoor access to food sovereignty. For thousands of generations, Indigenous communities have tended reciprocal and restorative relationships with native plants that center on the intrinsic connections between plants, place and people. Session speakers will discuss ways to illuminate the intersectionalities of native plants and center DEIJ* in education to transform and empower communities toward a shared love of place.
*Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice

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Manzanita

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
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Westervelt Ecological Services
Helix Environmental Planning
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