Los Angeles Biodiversity Index Baseline Report
the first official measurement of the City's Biodiversity
This is a big deal.
Published in 2022, the Los Angeles Biodiversity Index Baseline Report portrays the first and only attempt at quantifying the City’s wildlife and local flora. Significant anthropogenic activity, habitat fragmentation, and an overall reduction in favorable environmental conditions (caused by the former) have made survival extremely difficult and in some cases, impossible.
The punchline of the report may not be surprising to those who are connected to the natural environment in the city. For those who haven't yet recognized the biodiversity hotspot that Los Angeles is, and why so many species have found our Mediterranean climate favorable for the same reasons most people do, let this report broaden your perspective on the dire conditions our co-habitants are enduring.
The City scored a 37 out of a possible 110
with an average metric score of 1.7 points out of a possible 5
In short, the City's low score is a result of poor planning and a failure to protect our plant and animal communities. Los Angeles has a high percentage of species (plant and animal) that exist here and nowhere else in the world. It is currently recognized as the largest City in the US to be certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Community Wildlife Habitat. While we cannot get back what we have already lost, we can go forward in significantly reducing the anthropogenic activities that are causing habitat loss and degradation.
108 "charismatic" and "umbrella" Species of Concern
The report calls out 108 species that are afforded more environmental protection than others, whether it be under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the California Endangered Species Act, the Federal Endangered Species Act, or the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). See below for how these species are classified and/or click the image on the right to see the Biodiversity Indicator Species document in full.
Image adapted from the 2022 Biodiversity Indicator Species Guide, page 1
It is difficult to determine which is sadder -
The low score of 37 out of 110 or the "0" score received in response to a Biodiversity Vision/Action Plan.
Said differently: There is no plan.
Image adapted from LA Biodiversity Index Baseline Report page 109
An estimated 87% of land in the city is privately owned. This makes it extremely critical for property owners to be mindful of their outdoor space and to maximize their gardens to the fullest extent. Creating and maintaining these habitats is essential.
Additional details about how the City calculated its metrics can be found in Appendix II, which includes reliance on Isaac Brown's 2019 dissertation titled Managing Cities as Urban Ecosystems: Analysis Tools for Biodiversity Stewardship in Los Angeles.
Klausmeyer, K., M., Shaw, R. (2009). Climate Change, Habitat Loss, Protected Areas and the Climate Adaptation Potential of Species in Mediterranean Ecosystems
Worldwide. PloS One 4 (7): e6392. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0006392
Thomas, A. (2022). Los Angeles Is Not A Desert. Tree People. Retrieved from https://www.treepeople.org/2022/10/24/la-not-a-desert/
Barton, M., (2022). LA Biodiversity Index Baseline Report. City of Los Angeles LA Sanitation & Environment Biodiversity Team. Retrieved from