Protecting Wildlife During Tree Planting

Pennsylvania is blessed with a rich diversity of plant species, with approximately 3,000 plants native to the state. However, it is alarming to note that 582 of these native plants are classified as rare, threatened, or endangered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) in Pennsylvania. As responsible gardeners and nature lovers, it is our duty to protect these invaluable plants and the wildlife that rely on them.

Updates on Regulations

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The DCNR is actively working to update the regulations that safeguard native wild plants in Pennsylvania. To stay informed about these updates, you can visit the Tips Tree Planting website and explore the Plant Classification Change Information section. Proposed changes to plant regulations are posted in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, and public comments are welcomed by either submitting them through the bulletin page or directly to the DCNR.

The Importance of Native Plants

Native plants form the backbone of our ecosystems. They provide essential food and shelter for native wildlife and pollinators. Additionally, they offer greater ecosystem services, such as flood prevention and soil stabilization, compared to non-native plants. Rare native plants serve as indicators of ecosystem health, signaling the need for conservation and restoration efforts.

Understanding Rare Plants

Several factors can contribute to the rarity of plant species. These include limited gene flow among populations, habitat loss and fragmentation due to development, invasive plants displacing native species, selective browsing by wildlife, and over-collection by humans. As responsible gardeners, we must be aware of these threats and take steps to mitigate them.

DCNR’s Conservation Efforts

The DCNR plays a crucial role in the conservation of native wild plants. Through data collection and analysis, they determine the status of plant species and communicate the level of protection required. The DCNR offers valuable resources and recommendations for the active management of rare plant species, including the Pennsylvania Conservation Explorer, Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory environmental review, education on invasive plants, and information on using native plants.

Moreover, the DCNR is actively engaged in protecting and managing plant communities on their lands. By designating areas for plant conservation and implementing appropriate techniques and practices, they strive to enhance the growing conditions for rare plants. Invasive species management is also a priority to limit the impact on native plant communities. Additionally, the DCNR provides guidelines for planting and seeding, invasive plant management plans, and pollinator planting guidelines to benefit native wild plants.

DCNR’s Jurisdictional Responsibility

The DCNR has been entrusted with the responsibility of surveying and managing native wild plants under the Wild Resource Conservation Act and the Conservation and Natural Resources Act. The Bureau of Forestry within the DCNR is specifically tasked with the conservation of native wild plants.

The Listing Process

The listing of classified plants involves a robust process of public participation, data gathering, and expert input. Anyone in Pennsylvania can petition the DCNR to change the status of a plant species. Recommendations for species listings are made by the Pennsylvania Biological Survey’s Vascular Plant Technical Committee, which comprises experts in the botanical field. The Rare Plant Forum, consisting of experts and enthusiasts, also contributes to discussions on plant research and trends. The DCNR carefully considers all available data, including known populations, threats, habitat decline, and available information, to determine the status of plants.

Status Definitions

The DCNR’s regulation, Conservation of Native Wild Plants, provides status definitions to classify plants in decline in Pennsylvania. These classifications include Pennsylvania Endangered, Pennsylvania Extirpated, Pennsylvania Rare, Pennsylvania Threatened, Pennsylvania Vulnerable, Special Concern Population, Tentatively Undetermined, Unlisted, and Wild Plants.

Taking Action at Home

As individuals, we can make a difference in protecting native wild plants. Here are some actions you can take at home:

  • Resist the temptation to pick native wildflowers, as this prevents them from going to seed and can harm their populations. Instead, enjoy their beauty in their natural habitats and take pictures as a lasting memory.
  • Avoid removing plants from the wild for transplantation at home. Most plants are not successful in transplanting, and removing them can harm their natural populations.
  • Identify and remove invasive plants from your property to prevent their spread to other areas.
  • Select native plant species that are suited to your site conditions. By choosing the right plant for the right place, you contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem.
  • Get involved in local friends’ groups that maintain parks and trails or work on invasive plant removal projects.
  • Spread the word about the importance of native landscaping and the role of plants in our everyday lives. Conservation begins at home, and your enthusiasm can inspire others to take action.

By implementing these practices, we can protect and preserve the rare native plants of Pennsylvania, ensuring a thriving ecosystem for future generations. For more information on tree planting techniques, visit Tips Tree Planting, your go-to resource for all things related to tree care and conservation.

Remember, every action counts, and together we can make a difference in the protection of wildlife and their precious habitats.

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