martes, julio 17

The California Floristic Province

Although almost every place in our planet contains life, not all places are equal.  Due to the mixture of geological, physical, geographical and other factors that favor a high number of different habitats that in turn favor a high number of different and endemic species, over 50% of the world’s plant and 42% of all terrestrial vertebrate species are endemic to 34 biodiversity hotspots. The California Floristic Province, a region that extends from Santa Barbara in Southern California to the parallel 30th in Northern Baja California (about 220 miles from San Diego), has been identified as one of these 34 regions that present a high degree of endemism and biodiversity.

Map of Mexico's ecoregions. Source: Encyclopedia of Earth

The California Floristic Province region has a Mediterranean climate that is characterized by very hot summers, and very humid and not so cold winters. It comprises various habitats including coastal sagebrush, shrub land, chaparral riparian forest and cypress forest. The region is home to at least 3,488 plant species (2,124 of them endemic), 340 bird species, 157 mammal species, 73 freshwater fish species, 69 reptile species and 46 amphibian species.

Map of the California Floristic Province. Source: California Academy of Sciences

Although only eight percent (six million acres) of the California Floristic Province is in Mexico, its conservation is extremely important since many ecosystems in California have already been wiped out by commercial farming, pollution, road construction and urban development. Unfortunately, urban development, mining and large-scale energy projects are threatening the last remaining intact areas in the Mexican California Floristic Province too.  In partnership with landowners, other nonprofit organizations and some government agencies, Terra Peninsular is hoping to establish a natural corridor that will connect some of the last undeveloped ecosystems from the San Quintin Bay at the Southern limit of the California Floristic Province to the border with the US. If we are successful, 36% of the six million acres of the California Floristic Province will be under a type of protection.

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