What is an EcoFlora?
EcoFlora is a new kind of flora that leverage the power of new technologies and community science to document and conserve native biodiversity.
Pioneered by the New York Botanical Garden in 2017, EcoFlora projects are being carried out at the Desert Botanical Garden, Denver Botanic Gardens, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The project seeks to engage the public as community scientists to observe, collect, and compile information about the City’s plants and their relationships with other organisms, such as birds, insects, and mushrooms, and combine these data with all that is already known from natural history collections and scientific publications. The New York City EcoFlora is a real-time, online, ongoing checklist of plants that will result in a dynamic resource for conservation planning as well as in New Yorkers who are better informed about the importance of urban ecologies and who can contribute to protecting them.
Traditional flora projects are typically conducted by botanists who collect specimens and analyze existing records to produce a static inventory that quickly becomes out of date. The broader community is rarely included in a meaningful way and the results are important scientific contributions, but are rarely seen, except by professionals. Scarce resources are usually unavailable for updates, except every few decades or even centuries. The metropolitan area is home to a significant diversity of plants, animals, fungi, and habitats that provide vital ecosystem services such as cleaning the air and filtering the water. But this biodiversity is under increasing threat by development, invasive species, and a changing climate. Plants are the foundation for all life on Earth and as the pace of environmental change increases, it is more important than ever to track rare species, document the effects of climate change and to detect invasive species before they get out of control.
The New York City EcoFlora project serves two complementary purposes:
1. to meaningfully engage New Yorkers in protecting and preserving the City’s native plant species
2. to assemble new, original observations and data on the City’s flora to better inform policy decisions about management and conservation of the City’s natural resources.
How Can I Get Involved?
• Add your observations of plants, animals, insects, and other organisms to the Project Page on iNaturalist
• Participate in this month’s EcoQuest on iNaturalist, or browse the Archive of past EcoQuests
• Explore historical and modern specimens
• Attend our yearly Conference
• Learn more about the plants of New York City
• Join the NYC Neighborhood Naturalists group for monthly talks and event updates
Brian Boom, Curator Emeritus
Lawrence Kelly, Vice President of Science Administration, Director of Graduate Studies
Lydia Paradiso, NYBG-CUNY Graduate Fellow
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MG-70-19-0057-19] and [MA-10-16-0420-16].