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From the CPC site…
The Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) is dedicated solely to preventing the extinction of U.S. native plants. The Center was one of the first organizations created to meet this need. The Center is a network of 39 leading botanic institutions. Founded in 1984, the Center operates the only coordinated national program of off-site (ex situ) conservation of rare plant material. This conservation collection ensures that material is available for restoration and recovery efforts for these species. CPC also works in research, restoration, technical assistance, education and advocacy through the efforts of the network and the national office.
The cooperative CPC network maintains the National Collection of Endangered Plants. Believed to be the largest living collection of rare plants in the world, the collection contains more than 750 of America’s most imperiled native plants. Live plant material is collected from nature under controlled conditions and then carefully maintained as seed, rooted cuttings or mature plants. Network institutions conduct horticultural research and carefully monitor these materials so that imperiled plants can be grown and returned to natural habitats. Several CPC institutions are also involved in restoration projects in the field (in situ). Scientists are stabilizing current populations of imperiled plants and reintroducing new populations in appropriate habitats.
These conservation efforts are undertaken to complement other preservation activities for our nation’s flora, such as habitat protection and management. Off-site storage and cultivation of genetically appropriate plant material is a critical step in supporting restoration in the wild. The Center’s goal is to protect the most imperiled U.S. plants from extinction and restore them to secure habitats in cooperation with multiple conservation agencies and organizations.
Almost 1,000 U.S. plant species are already listed under the federal Endangered Species Act or qualify for listing. Without human intervention, many of these species may be gone within our lifetime. Research by CPC has shown that 80 percent of the at-risk plants of the United States are closely related to plants with economic value somewhere in the world, and more than 50 percent are related to crop species.