A statewide conservation alliance headquartered at the UGA State Botanical Garden of Georgia has received a rare national recognition for its decades of efforts to conserve native plants.
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies presented the special award to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which represents the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance (GPCA). The award celebrates the GPCA’s “outstanding contributions” to the association and to advancing professional fish and wildlife management in North America.
Formed in 1995, the alliance is an innovative network of 42 public gardens, agencies, schools, companies and conservation organizations committed to preserving Georgia’s endangered flora. The DNR Nongame Conservation Section is a charter member.
The group initiates and coordinates efforts to protect natural habitats and endangered plant species statewide through management, education, and rare-plant propagation and outplanting. Recovery projects target 100 imperiled species, from swamp pink to whorled sunflower. Members also helped develop and revise the State Wildlife Action Plan, Georgia’s guiding strategy for conserving animals and plants.
Wilf Nicholls, director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, said ensuring “our state is as rich and biodiverse as the one we inherited is a lofty goal. But in a true spirit of openness and sharing the GPCA has brought together dozens of institutions and agencies all working together toward well-defined conservation goals. It has proven to be a recipe for success for which we can all be proud.”
Recognized as a national leader in plant conservation, the alliance has become a model, DNR Commissioner Mark Williams said.
“GPCA has proven incredibly effective in focusing and increasing efforts to conserve Georgia’s rare plant species and their habitats,” Williams said. “Not only is this work benefiting our state, other states are considering setting up alliances, meaning plant conservation in those states will reap from what the GPCA has sown in Georgia.”
The State Wildlife Action Plan identifies 290 plant species as a high priority for conservation. Conserving that range of species, along with others, now and for future generations requires collaboration. By focusing the efforts of members, the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance is meeting that need.
In addition to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and DNR and its Nongame Conservation Section, alliance member institutions include Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta Botanical Garden Gainesville, Atlanta History Center, Augusta University, Beech Hollow Farms, Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern University, Brenau University, Callaway Gardens, Chattahoochee Nature Center, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Coastal WildScapes, East Georgia State College, Columbus State University, Fort Valley State University, Georgia Botanical Society, Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Native Plant Society, Georgia Power Company, Georgia Southern University, Georgia Wildlife Federation, Jacksonville (Fla.) Zoo and Gardens, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway, Kennesaw State University, Piedmont College, Shorter College, The Nature Conservancy of Georgia, The Nature Conservancy (Fort Benning), U.S. Department of Agriculture National Seed Laboratory (Macon), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Athens, Mississippi and South Carolina Field Offices), U.S. Forest Service Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (Georgia), University of Georgia, University of North Georgia, Valdosta State University Herbarium and Zoo Atlanta.
Learn more about the alliance at www.botgarden.uga.edu (click “Conserve”) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/georgiaplantconservationalliance). Work during fiscal year 2015 is detailed in DNR Nongame Conservation Section’s annual report, www./georgiawildlife.com/conservation/AnnualReport.