The Marin Biodiversity Corridor Initiative (MBCI)

The Marin Biodiversity Corridor Initiative (MBCI)

SF Bay Model Native Pollinator Garden Paul da Silva

Bay Model Pollinator Garden in Sausalito – Paul da Silva

In March of this year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released an important report, Making Peace With Nature. It highlighted three major threats to our continued survival – biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution. Shortly afterward, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held a joint workshop emphasizing the linkages among these threats.

Danaus plexippus Monarch Marcia Basala

Danaus plexippus – Monarch buuterfly by Marcia Basala

Growing recognition of the critical state of the biodiversity crisis has led to action at the national and state levels. There is now official Federal and state support for the “30 x 30” conservation target – protection of 30% of the land and water areas by 2030. Additionally, September 7th has been proclaimed California Biodiversity Day, and the California Biodiversity Initiative has begun to integrate the protection of our state’s biodiversity into all state government policies and actions.

Meanwhile, ecologists worldwide are increasingly focusing attention on the role that urban and suburban areas can play in conserving biodiversity. These areas are expanding faster than protected lands. Furthermore, for the first time in human history more than half the people on the planet live in these areas. Living in these more developed areas, people are now largely deprived of the intimate associations that most traditional societies maintained with other native species, to the detriment of all. Thus, encouragement of native species in urban and suburban areas holds great promise for everyone.

This is no surprise to many Marin CNPS members! For years, they have taken upon themselves the responsibility of restoring native plants to patches of degraded public and private property outside the parks and reserves. The idea is that once the plants take hold, they then can support the native insects, which in turn can support the native birds, mammals, fungi, and other organisms that feed upon them. In this way, planting native plants (and paying attention to other key habitat needs) can little by little re-establish lost webs of life. In addition to re-building links among these species, this can also help to improve human understanding of our too often forgotten fellow creatures.

However, many inspired volunteers have found their efforts to be more difficult than they should be. Often there has been a lack of appreciation, frequently there has been isolation, and sometimes there has been outright opposition. There seems to be a “missing local link” between these grassroots efforts and the farsighted state, national, and international initiatives. In June of this year, a group of Marin environmentalists met to discuss the problem. They included people affiliated with CNPS, the Xerces Society, Marin Conservation League, UC Marin Master Gardeners, and the Marin Beekeepers. They saw the value of a mutual-aid strategy and formed the Marin Biodiversity Corridor Initiative (MBCI).

The general goal of MBCI is to fill the gap its organizers identified by building on already-existing individual projects through collaboration, expansion, publicity, and advocacy. Its specific strategies are basically four:

  1. To raise awareness of biodiversity among public agencies and private institutions by encouraging adoption of goals and policies to promote it.
  2. To support on-the-ground local biodiversity projects through sharing of information and other resources.
  3. To maintain a database and map to record individual and countywide progress.
  4. To promote public understanding of key ecological and cultural connections through diverse educational activities.

In just a few months, MBCI has come a long way. It has produced a slide show and has conducted outreach to many different local agencies and organizations. It has produced a “recognition form” to facilitate intake of information on the different existing projects and has begun to organize the information available. It has made progress on several educational activities. The first of these will be a talk by Doug Tallamy on October 27th, an event of the Dominican University – Book Passage Fall Speaker Series. This will focus on the importance of native plants as the foundation for all terrestrial biodiversity.

To give or receive more information, please contact Paul da Silva at

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Links of Interest×30-vision-conserve-nature

Conservation Committee

The Conservation Committee of Marin CNPS reviews and comments on plans and proposals such as development proposals and public land use plans that may affect native plants in Marin County.  It also coordinates other native plant protection efforts of the Chapter including work with public land managers and other non-profit organizations to conserve and restore native plant habitats and organization of weeding programs to protect rare species threatened by exotic invasives.  

A way to get aquainted with the Conservation Committee’s work is to volunteer for a weeding or restoration work party.  See our web calendar for dates.  We welcome all volunteers interested in helping to ensure that the native plants we enjoy in the wild continue to exist and flourish.

For further information please contact the Conservation Committee Chair.