The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to explore the creation of an index to document the city’s existing biodiversity and ecosystems while also setting conservation targets.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz. Photo by
Councilman Paul Koretz said creating the biodiversity index would “give a lot of context to the work that we have already been doing and move us forward.”

The City Biodiversity Index — also known as the Singapore Index — was developed by international experts in urban biodiversity planning and management under the Convention on Biological Diversity, according to the motion, which was passed on a 12-0 vote.

“Los Angeles is working on disparate issues throughout L.A. to protect and restore Los Angeles environment — trees protection, wildlife protection, climate change, wildlife corridors, etc. But historically, the scientists, advocates and policymakers have worked in silos,” according to a statement released by Koretz’s office. “This is an important motion because it brings synergy between these groups.”

Those groups will work together “to protect Los Angeles’ unique environment by creating an index to identify and measure all plants, animals, insects, trees,” according to the statement. “Supported by advocates, scientists and citizen scientists are working to identify all of the plants, insects, mammals and birds of Los Angeles. We now understand that the health of our larger environment can be measured by the health of the flora and fauna within the region.”

Koretz noted that Los Angeles is located within the California Floristic Province, recognized as one of 35 biodiversity hotspots on the planet and the only hotspot in the continental United States.

“Unfortunately, this means that our biodiversity is threatened, and the good news is that we can do something about it,” Koretz said.

The next step is to establish a working group in the mayor’s office to develop a plan on the feasibility of creating the index.

“It may seem like a daunting task, but Singapore, with 5 1/2 million people, has done it. Cities like Phoenix, Arizona have done it. And if they can do it, we can do it,” Koretz said. “The journal Bio Science this month featured a global survey of biodiversity policies and plans across 40 major cities in the world. Los Angeles was not on the list, but with your support today, we will be on it going forward.”

Tony Tucci, director of Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife, was one of a half-dozen speakers who voiced support for the motion.

“What I see is that our city faces perhaps a perception problem, that it is perhaps too big, or perhaps that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. But this is a really great motion and product that brings everyone together in a working group,” Tucci said.

— City News Service

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