New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP)
A collaboration of professional botanists, state agencies, and conservation organizations in each New England State.
NEPCoP's goal is to prevent the extirpation and promote the recovery of the region's endangered native flora.
In 1991, The Society invited professionals from organizations and institutions involved in the protection of New England's endangered plants to form NEPCoP. It became the nation's first regional integrated conservation program. Today, approximately 140 professionals represent 68 different public agencies, nonprofit organizations, universities, land trusts, state parks, and environmental consulting companies. All State Heritage Programs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, National Park Service, University of Connecticut, Massachusetts Audubon, and the New England Botanical Club are represented.
New England Wild Flower Society provides funding and staff for NEPCoP and administers the program with guidance from a Regional Advisory Council (RAC) and Task Forces in the six New England states. Task Forces, made up of experts in each state's flora, are the heart of the program. They select priority species for survey and seed collection, and evaluate results yearly. RAC provides input on regional policy and develops the Flora Conservanda, a list of regionally endangered plants.
The program integrates in situ field actions (survey, habitat management, reintroduction) with ex situ (off-site efforts: seed banking, research, propagation). By coordinating regional, state-based plant conservation, NEPCoP helps avoid duplication of effort, and provides sharing of data, thus making the best use of limited conservation resources.
The collaboration publishes policies on prioritizing species for conservation, taxonomy of rare plants, habitat management and restoration, reintroduction (including augmentation and introduction), collection of plants, and seed banking. The 1996 publication of Flora Conservanda: New England, the regional list of plants in need of conservation, was a major milestone, and now guides conservation actions.
This innovative and successful program is an example for other regions nationwide, including the Southeast and the Pacific Northwest, where new programs have adopted the NEPCoP model.