Tag Archives: extinction

Save the Planet With Native Plants

How you can protect and restore mother earth all year round

Over 50 years ago, an oil rig experienced a pressure blowout in the Santa Barbara Channel resulting in up to 3 million gallons of crude oil ripping through the ocean floor — the worst oil spill in the nation’s history up to that point. It took years for Santa Barbara’s ecosystem to recover, but the Earth Day movement took root. Despite our collective efforts that were started on that first Earth Day, globally we are still in the throes of the sixth major mass extinction in planetary history and the first time this has been caused by humans. Today, our global biodiversity is collapsing, resulting in an accelerated rate of species extinction. 

Earth Day, a time to demonstrate support for environmental protection, is an opportunity to bring awareness to the healing power of native plants. The mission of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is to conserve and protect native plants and habitats for the health and well being of people and the planet. That mission has become increasingly urgent as more native plant species face extinction, threatening the foundation of all life on the planet.

Saving plants means saving the planet. 

In honor of Earth Day, the Garden invites the community to restore the earth by  celebrating these critical native plants.

1) Spending time in nature is something we can all do to reconnect with mother earth, and it doesn’t go without healing benefits. Nature can help reduce anxiety, promote creativity and contribute to heart health. Research shows rewards begin accruing with as little as 2 hours a week.

“The Garden provides the community with respite filled with redwood trees, wildflower meadows, and Channel Island views,” said Dr. Steve Windhager, Executive Director of the Garden. “It’s a good opportunity to remind ourselves of the connection between our own health and the health of the planet.”

2) The Garden welcomes the community to take a stroll through our native plant displays on Earth Day to observe the unique beauty of California flora and learn more about what simple seeds of change you can implement that make a huge impact on our environment. Discover our chalkboard signs along the trails with tips on what you can do to protect biodiversity or join our Instagram livestream from 11am – 12:30pm for a Garden stroll with our Director of Education and Engagement.

3) Participate in Earth Day virtually by registering to join in Chumash Earth Day on April 20 at 1pm, hosted by the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office. Windhager will be giving a presentation on how you can heal the earth starting in your own home and neighborhood by planting native plants.

4) Learn more about where climate leaders are stepping up to do the critical work needed to combat the climate crisis by joining in the Community Environmental Council’s 3-Day Virtual Earth Day Festival. The Garden’s Director of Education and Engagement, Scot Pipkin, will be a co-emcee on April 24 from 12pm – 3pm and will share how native plants can be used to lean into climate action at this urgent moment.

5) At the Garden, be sure to visit our nursery, which offers the widest selection of native plants on the central coast. Staffed with knowledgeable and experienced gardeners, there’s no better place to learn more about native plants, find the right selection for your garden, create wildlife habitat, or purchase a plant for a friend.

Protect and restore the earth this year through native plants. Native plants enhance the environment instead of threatening it, provide habitat for wildlife, and are a source of nectar for pollinators. Earth Day began in our own backyard, and can continue to grow there as well. 

 About the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The Garden serves the public as more than just a pretty place, but as a model for sustainability. Founded in 1926, the Garden is the first botanic garden focused exclusively on California native plants and currently spans 78 acres with five miles of walking trails, an herbarium, seed bank, research labs, library, and Nursery. The Garden welcomes the public every day from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and offers a members-only hour from 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. For more information about the Garden, please visit sbbg.org.   

An Oasis for Animals and Humans Alike

After three months of being closed to the public in response to the pandemic, the Santa Barbara Zoo reopened in June. 

“The Zoo has been an amazing respite where families can congregate in a safe way,” says Board Chair George Leis. “That has been very meaningful for me; a touch of normalcy in a very confused world.” 

But it isn’t just humans finding respite at Santa Barbara’s world-renowned zoo. Through its conservation programs and the exciting opening of its new Australian Walkabout exhibit in summer 2021, the Zoo is busy protecting animal species ranging from California’s Western snowy plover to Australia’s Bennett’s wallaby.

The Zoo’s President and CEO, Rich Block, points to the Zoo’s now 18-year commitment to bring the California condor back from the brink of extinction. Part of a broad coalition of other zoos and federal agencies, the Santa Barbara Zoo has helped bring the population back from a mere 22 birds in 1987 to more than 500 today. In wild condor country (such as the Sespe Wilderness), Zoo staff can regularly be seen scaling sheer cliffs to get eyes on chicks and ensure their safety. And they assist in rounding up the birds each year to check the population’s health. 

“The people who work with them know these birds like avid soap opera fans,” Block says. “They know all the characters, know all the bonds, and all the cheating. It’s an incredible drama.” 

Within the Zoo’s walls, the deaths in 2018 and 2019 of beloved elephants Sujatha and Little Mac created a physical and emotional void that impacted the entire community. The Zoo’s experienced Animal Care team, along with outside partners, researched a multitude of options before narrowing down species and experiences that would be best for the animals and Zoo guests. 

Rooted in its conservation focus, the Zoo team landed on an “up close and down under” experience which will allow visitors to actually walk through the exhibit and get close to kangaroos, wallabies, and emus. While Australia has incredible biodiversity – more than 100,000 species of animals have been described so far – the wildfires of 2019-20 helped propel it to the dubious distinction of having the most rapid rate of mammal extinctions worldwide. 

“This new immersive exhibit is exciting for us and our Zoo guests. It perfectly complements our mission of bringing people and animals together for safe, inspiring, educational, and fun experiences. This will be a totally different Zoo opportunity, providing a wonderful added new dimension for visitors while supporting our commitment to conservation,” commented Block.