Texas is home to more than 400 species of plants at risk of extinction, including 163 considered “critically imperiled” within the state, according to data from Texas Parks & Wildlife. Plants are given this status when five or fewer occurrences are known in the wild or when the plant is experiencing steep declines. An additional 14 plants on the list are likely to have vanished from the state, as no known species or community has been discovered in the last 20 to 40 years.
The Garden is committed to protecting the rare plants of Texas, a commitment lived out through the organization’s membership in the Center for Plant Conservation and the ongoing Texas Plant Conservation Program. This sort of work requires the cooperation of scientists, state and federal agencies, land owners and members of the public. To coordinate their efforts and exchange information on research progress and best practices, the Garden is hosting the 2023 Texas Plant Conservation Conference Aug. 14 and 15.
“This is a meeting where scientists, land managers, agency staff and other professionals can exchange ideas and information,” says Brooke Byerley Best, director of the Garden’s Texas Plant Conservation Program. “It’s an opportunity to get everyone in the same place and coordinate our efforts.”
The keynote speaker for the conference will be Naomi Fraga, director of Conservation Programs at the California Botanic Garden and Research Assistant Professor of Botany at Claremont Graduate University. She will deliver a keynote address titled “Seed Banking the California Flora: Promise and Progress.” Fraga is a well-known conservationist who has been featured in publications including the New York Times, Washington Post and Wired Magazine.
The conference is sponsored by Texas Parks & Wildlife, the Nicholas Martin, Jr. Family Foundation and the Wildlife and Natural Resources Program of Tarleton State University.
“This year’s conference is the first in-person event since 2018. TPCC usually meets every other year, but because of pandemic concerns, the 2020 conference was held virtually and the 2022 conference delayed until this year,” says Best. “I know I’m not the only one looking forward to reconnecting with colleagues.”
Members of the public are welcome at TPCC, although Best notes that this is a professional-level conference; presentations will assume a high level of knowledge about plants and conservation. The registration deadline is July 15.
“TPCC is an amazing opportunity to meet with people who share our commitment to protecting the rare and threatened plants of Texas,” says Best. “We all come away with new ideas and new enthusiasm about our work for these unique plants and habitats.”