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How to manage endangered plants?

After visiting a National Heritage Conservation Area this week in Georgia, it got me considering the ways (successful and unsuccessful) to protect threatened and endangered plants in America.

The park ranger for this unique ecosystem near Atlanta explained the choice for how to manage their populations of a critically imperiled or globally endangered plant that grows within their management Area.

Surprisingly to me, he said, we don't advertise it, don't put signs up, but rely on people overlooking and ignoring the plant.

Asking government agencies and land managers, how do you manage a endangered plant population? Using animal models is common, but are they best for protecting plants whose populations are threatened or endangered and/or of cultural concern.

In this day of social media, where taking pictures in highly desirable locations and posting selfies and TikTok's or other image/video content in our most beautiful but vulnerable habitats, how do we engage the public, encourage engagement with nature, while protecting these plants.

I ask you as readers, website visitors, does seeing a sign cautioning you of presence of a local plant of concern make you more or less likely to explore that habitat looking for the plant, hoping to get an encounter with this plant? Do you hope to get a selfie or like birders, check the species off your lifelist? Do caution signs or barriers like fences or chain across an access site actually keep you out.

Alternatively, is the poaching concern solution to blur with geolocation of sites or only give county level presence helpful? Most orchids are protected from collection and thus blurred locations (even on apps like iNaturalist) and locations do not get more specific that county level designation in Floras such as Flora Online.

Which conservation approach do you see as working best to preserve rare plants/fungi?

  • 0%highly visible signs stating rare plant presence

  • 0%no signs highlighting plants but treding gentle signs

  • 0%signs posted and conservation staff present

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