The mission of the Center for Plant Conservation is to conserve and restore the imperiled native plants of the United States to secure them from extinction.
The Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) is dedicated solely to preventing
the extinction of U.S. native plants. The Center was one of the first
organizations created to meet this need. The Center is a network of 39
leading botanic institutions. Founded in 1984, the Center operates the
only coordinated national program of off-site (ex situ) conservation of
rare plant material. This conservation collection ensures that material
is available for restoration and recovery efforts for these species. CPC
also works in research, restoration, technical assistance, education and
advocacy through the efforts of the network and the national office.
The cooperative CPC network maintains
the National Collection of Endangered Plants. Believed to be the largest
living collection of rare plants in the world, the collection contains
more than 750 of America’s most imperiled native plants. Live plant
material is collected from nature under controlled conditions and then
carefully maintained as seed, rooted cuttings or mature plants. Network
institutions conduct horticultural research and carefully monitor these
materials so that imperiled plants can be grown and returned to natural
habitats. Several CPC institutions are also involved in restoration projects
in the field (in situ). Scientists are stabilizing current populations
of imperiled plants and reintroducing new populations in appropriate habitats.
These conservation efforts are undertaken
to complement other preservation activities for our nation’s flora,
such as habitat protection and management. Off-site storage and cultivation
of genetically appropriate plant material is a critical step in supporting
restoration in the wild. The Center’s goal is to protect the most
imperiled U.S. plants from extinction and restore them to secure habitats
in cooperation with multiple conservation agencies and organizations.
Almost 1,000 U.S. plant species are already listed under the federal Endangered Species Act or qualify for listing. Without human intervention, many of these species may be gone within our lifetime. Research by CPC has shown that 80 percent of the at-risk plants of the United States are closely related to plants with economic value somewhere in the world, and more than 50 percent are related to crop species.