Golden Hour Executive Director, Lech Naumovich, was awestruck and greatly inspired by the 2012 CNPS Conservation Conference. The sunny San Diego Town and Country venue was absolutely packed with cutting edge plant research, restoration success, professionalism, and inspiration. Lech served on the conference steering committee and was a co-chair for the Restoration Science session. Honestly, he couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this fantastic effort. The California Native Plant Society staff, board of directors, steering committee, and session chairs worked diligently and tirelessly to make this a success – and they achieved that goal. Thank you everyone for your hard work.
Some thoughts and conclusions from the conference
1. There is much good news. Although many conservation conferences carry an overwhelmingly heavy note, this one provide ideas, stories, and projects where conservation of native flora was successful.
2. There is great student interest and a lot of talent in the universities. These are people who are interested and excited about plant conservation. We need to retain them in our field. In a recent conversation with Mark Heath of Shelterbelt Builders, Mark stated “one of the most pressing problems in restoration ecology is finding the financial resources in order to keep the talent”.
3. Conference plenary speaker David Chipping noted that the Restoration Science session, that Golden Hour co-chaired, was the most well attended out of all the sessions. This speaks to the great interest in recovering lost habitats and plants.
Some thoughts on the Restoration Session
1. There are many great examples of small scale restoration projects. These projects are helping create a more extensive body of applied research work.
2. We need more multi-year studies. Many results were limited to one or two years post-treatment. We need more research on how these sites look 5-10 years after restoration.
3. Herbicide is a commonplace tool. It seems that the restoration field has accepted this tool, but we still want to make sure that projects that use chemicals are carefully reviewed to ensure that a non-chemical treatment is not a viable option.
4. Many studies are looking more carefully at soils and plants. Invasives are thought to later soil chemistry and nutrient balances so that native plants will lose their competitive edge. More research in this area could help develop soil specific weed treatments – like carbon amendments – that could be helpful in certain situations.
5. I keep wondering if we can develop a tool to help create an avenue for more of the public to get involved in restoration. I’m envisioning a “stewardship service” program that would offer a trade of volunteer hours for a free annual pass to national or state or local parks, as applicable.
It was truly a fantastic conference. Please follow the cnps.org site for more updates and conclusions coming out of the conference.
A special thanks to Creekside Science (where Lech works part-time) for helping host Lech Naumovich at the conference by providing lodging, transportation, and food! Creekside science presented a few notable presentations on successful plant and habitat restoration projects at CNPS 2012.