In December 2021, with the support of an organizing team, Christy Powell (Horticulture Manager, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance) and Amy Byrne (Global Tree Conservation Coordinator, Oak Consortium, The Morton Arboretum) co-led a two-day conservation planning workshop, following the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG) Principles and Steps. The workshops were generously supported by AZH and DCF grants awarded to San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
Since the Global Conservation Consortium for Oak (GCCO) launched in December 2019, following its mission to establish a network to work together to implement comprehensive conservation strategies to prevent extinction of the world’s oak species, it has rapidly grown the network in the US region. Geographically, the GCCO-US region is split into three groups based on where the priority species are distributed; there is the Eastern US, Texas/Southwest and the Western US sub-regions. Within the Western US sub-region, which focuses on the conservation of 10 priority oak species, a smaller working group had formed, to meet and discuss the current status of the species that occur on the Channel Islands (US), and Guadeluope and Cedros Island (MX): Quercus cedrosensis, Q. dumosa, Q. engelmannii, Q. pacifica, Q. parvula and Q. tomentella. To build on this momentum, and in utilizing the baseline information from the Conservation Gap Analysis of Native US Oaks (Beckman et al., 2019), we wanted to pursue developing a conservation action plan for these six priority oak species. Also, conservation action planning is one of the main objectives of the GCCO.
Throughout the conservation planning process, we had the opportunity to discuss in more detail the conservation gaps, challenges, and next steps to take to actively conserve, manage and recover these important oak species. By the end of the workshop, and through various virtual planning meetings, we created a document that includes each of the six species’ natural history, habitat, distribution, threats, current conservation efforts, strategic goals and the priority actions to be implemented to meet each goal. Overall, it will be a guiding document for those who are working on, want to work on, or want to support these oak conservation efforts. Additionally, as another output from the in-person workshops, we decided to create species-specific action tables. We realized that although there is a lot of overlap in the threats and conservation actions to be implemented for the six species together, there are a lot of species-specific threats and challenges that need to be addressed separately. Therefore, each of the six species have tables that outline the threat, goal and identified actions to take to address the threat/challenge that is negatively affecting the species. These tables are linked at the bottom of the larger action plan.
There has been great progress following the workshop. More specifically, an iNaturalist California OakWatch project was created in collaboration with California Native Plant Society, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and the GCCO. The purpose is to gather more up-to-date, and accurate occurrence data as well as information on regeneration and seedling survival for each species’ populations. Please consider joining and contributing to the project as you can! Future identification training webinars and iNaturalist challenges (e.g. who can identify the most occurrences in a month), to further support this project, will be shared soon. Additionally, more surveying and collecting efforts will be taking place later this year, as well as, more conservation groves being established for these priority oaks.
iNaturalist California OakWatch landing page