California’s biological diversity is unique worldwide

Among the fifty states, California is home to more species of plants and animals and the highest number of species found nowhere else. This richness spans the entire state from the coast to the mountains, in cities and on farms, and throughout the valleys and deserts. Together, California’s plants and animals coexist to create the complex and beautiful ecosystems upon which so much of the state’s people and economy depend. Even after decades of economic and population growth, California has managed to maintain much of this biodiversity.

Image of trees and grass on fire at night. California is also considered one of the planet’s 36 “biodiversity hotspots,” which describes places on Earth where exceptional concentrations of biodiversity are facing significant threats, including climate change and habitat loss.

Threats to biodiversity represent a global crisis, which scientists rank next to climate change as the world’s most pressing environmental challenge, and it is well-recognized that biodiversity loss and climate change are interrelated and must be addressed together. According to a recent assessment by the United Nations, the global extinction rate is 10 to 100 times greater than during the last 10 million years, with up to 1 million species at risk of extinction.

The world is at a crossroads in conserving global biological diversity. Recognition of this crisis has served as a call to action for many countries, states, and non-governmental groups. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity is preparing a global biodiversity framework, an ambitious plan to implement broad-based action to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity and, by 2030, stabilize trends that have exacerbated biodiversity loss.

Closer to home, several local governments, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have developed and begun implementing strategies for the protection and restoration of biological diversity and highlighting the contribution of urban engagement in biodiversity conservation.


California provides habitat across 158,000 square miles for native species of:

6,500

plants

650

birds

220

mammals

100

reptiles

75

amphibians

70

freshwater fish

100

marine fish and mammals