Science: California Biodiversity Initiative

three bighorn sheep on hillside
purple and orange wildflowers
black and white snake
orange fish and black sea urchin
large primarily black bird

Biodiversity (or biological diversity) refers to the variety of life from ecosystems to species to genes. California is a global biodiversity hotspot and is home to more species of plants and animals than any other state in the U.S. California’s people and economy depend on the complex ecosystems that make up our landscapes and seascapes. While California has managed to avoid sizable declines in biodiversity, threats to our ecosystems are taking their toll. California has more threatened species than any other state in the U.S.

In 2017, a group of 26 scientific experts from across the state’s universities, herbaria, and conservation organizations created the “Charter to Secure the Future of California’s Native Biodiversity," a call to action to secure and recover the abundance and richness of native plants and animals in California, under current and changing climate conditions.

Governor Brown responded by launching the California Biodiversity Initiative in 2018. The goal of the Biodiversity Initiative is to secure the future of California’s biodiversity by integrating biodiversity protection into the state’s environmental and economic goals and efforts. Executive Order B-54-18 directs the Secretaries of Food and Agriculture(opens in new tab) and Natural Resources(opens in new tab) to implement the Biodiversity Initiative and to achieve goals consistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity(opens in new tab). The Executive Order also calls for all state agencies to work together in reaching these goals.

Concurrently with the Executive Order, the California Biodiversity Initiative Roadmap was issued, which outlines long-term steps for achieving the initiative’s goals. The Roadmap identifies the need to develop a baseline understanding of the current status of California’s biodiversity. Additionally, it highlights that management and conservation activities should integrate protection and preservation of biodiversity and that lands and waters should be restored and protected to meet the initiative’s biodiversity goals.

In October 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-82-20 (PDF)(opens in new tab), which directed California Natural Resources Agency to establish the California Biodiversity Collaborative(opens in new tab). The California Biodiversity Collaborative is the next phase in the evolution of California’s biodiversity conservation movement, integrating and building on efforts started by the California Biodiversity Initiative. The Executive Order also stated that is the goal of the State to conserve at least 30% of California's land and coastal waters by 2030 (i.e., 30x30). Efforts under the California Biodiversity Collaborative currently are focused on this 30x30 initiative, which is being led by California Natural Resources Agency(opens in new tab).

CDFW activities related to California's unique Biodiversity

The mission of CDFW is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public. To improve the protection and understanding of biodiversity statewide, CDFW is working on implementing a number of initiatives:


Executive Order N-82-20 directs CNRA to develop and report strategies for how to conserve at least 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030. CDFW staff are assisting CNRA in development of the Pathways to 30x30 document and the CA Nature mapping tool. In February 2022, the Pathways to 30x30 document and CA Nature tool will be released. The main stakeholders in this effort include State and federal agencies, NGOs, academia and research institutions, landowners (natural and working lands), and the public.

CA Biodiversity Day 2021

September 7 of each year is CA Biodiversity Day, a day to celebrate our state’s unique biodiversity and encourage actions to protect it. This year will be the third celebration of CA Biodiversity Day. In 2020, there were 39 hosts for CA Biodiversity Day. The goal for 2021 is to continue growing this annual celebration, that will likely occur between September 4-12, 2021. Participating hosts include State and federal agencies, NGOs, museums, zoos, academia to invite the public to participate in biodiversity-oriented activities.

Interpretive Panels

As part of an initiative to improve signage on CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves, three interpretive panel themes are being developed on climate change, pollinators, and wildlands of CDFW/biodiversity. Each wildlands of CDFW/biodiversity panel will feature a Tribal land acknowledgment that will be specific to each property. CDFW is working closely with Tribes via Tribal consultations for developing Tribal land acknowledgments, and local community-based and outdoor recreation organizations in its stakeholder outreach to ensure that messaging on panels reaches a diverse audience.

State Lands Climate - Biodiversity Sensor Network

To inform site-specific adaptive management and restoration of biodiversity, CDFW is developing a statewide, coupled climate-biodiversity sensor network on Department lands that monitors long-term climate and target species/ecosystems at selected sites. This effort is part of a larger statewide sentinel site network under the California Biodiversity Network with partner organizations like the UC Natural Reserve System, the Nature Conservancy, and Pepperwood Preserve. Outcomes of this network include site-specific biodiversity management and restoration recommendations focusing on resiliency, long-term datasets based in standardized protocols to inform adaptive management and restoration efforts to reduce extinction risk and increase success of restoration and resiliency to climate change.