These orchids in bloom smell like warm honey. (All photo: Jenni Zell)

Did you know the city of Los Angeles lies within a global biodiversity hotspot? I did not, at least until Australian landscape architect and academic Richard Weller presented his Atlas for the End of the World at USC in 2016. Weller’s presentation – combined with the call to action embedded in the books, The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humbolt’s New World and The Sixth Extinction an Unnatural History – challenged me to reevaluate my concept of nature. The presentation and books also helped aid my understanding of the richness of species and endemism of the place I’ve practiced landscape architecture and called home for most of my life.

Click here to see my entire 2018 Biodiversity Report (PDF).

Last month, the city of Los Angeles published their 2018 Biodiversity Report, which makes LA the first city in the United States to measure biodiversity using the Singapore Index. The report represents an important first step toward protecting and enhancing biodiversity, establishing a baseline measurement to compare change over time. The body of the report also establishes a framework for building a customized Los Angeles Index, pointing the way forward in the utilization of published academic journals about biodiversity to help develop, fund, and implement both policies and projects.

Landscape architects share responsibility for the homogenization and dramatic reduction of native biodiversity in developed areas, and in turn, play a substantial role in restoring and strengthening biodiversity in urban, suburban, and agricultural areas, both in the role of policy development and its implementation.

This convergence of conviction and new acquired knowledge inspired me to create a biodiversity report of my own home. The first step in the scientific method is observation, so what better way to gain a more complete understanding and appreciation of the value of biodiversity reports than applying it to the world immediately around me.



Awaiting these ripening figs to be gathered soon for breakfast.

Epiphyte hanging by my front door

Dyckias and cobweb hena and chicks.

Native California verbena and dudleya.

An annual poppy being visited by a honey bee.






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