The process for selecting species for conservation is under development and comments are welcome. We are looking at several factors that fall into general categories of plant rarity and partner participation. Specific factors that would contribute to a species’ priority for conservation include:
1. Federal listing as threatened, endangered, or petitioned. Mississippi currently has 12 plant species on this list.
2. Mississippi Natural Heritage Program Tracking List (485 species) and watch list (101 species). This is our current working list, but it is not considered exhaustive or exclusive.
3. International system for ranking rare, threatened and endangered species developed by The Nature Conservancy and maintained by NatureServe. The system uses a 1 – 5 ranking scheme with 1 being critically imperiled and 5 being secure. Species are ranked within states and globally. The system helps us understand relative rarity, but the rankings can be difficult to interpret or to translate into a strict prioritization logic.
1. Whether the plant is a target of an existing conservation effort in Mississippi. As a partnership, our purpose is to facilitate efficiency through cooperation. What do people engaged in acts of conservation need, and how can a PCA help?
2. Whether a neighboring state has identified the plant as a target, either through the work of a Plant Conservation Alliance, or in the State Wildlife Action Plan, the work of the state Natural Heritage Commission/Program, or by any other entity. The goal is to facilitate cooperation and increase chances of success: the recovery plan for such plants have already been written, their habitat needs described, their threats identified.