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LA River_ducks_for Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety of plants, animals, and other species interacting with their environment to maintain the balance of nature. In cities, these environments include the natural areas, urban landscapes, and other built environments that these species call home.

The City of Los Angeles is fortunate to be located within a globally recognized hotspot of native biodiversity. While Los Angeles is a biodiversity jewel, this designation also means that the biodiversity here is threatened, and innovative strategies are needed to ensure its resilience and sustainability. The survival and well-being of the City’s residents also depend on ecosystem services provided by biodiversity:

  • air pollution reduction
  • adapting to a changing climate
  • mental health and educational opportunities
  • water cleansing
  • aesthetic benefits
These services are built directly from an integrated ecosystem of natural biodiversity and sustainable urban landscapes.


GRASS for biodiversity

In order to protect and enhance Los Angeles's biodiversity, Councilmember Koretz, who represents the 5th Council District, introduced a Biodiversity Motion. On May 10, 2017, Los Angeles City Council unanimously adopted his Biodiversity Motion, which includes three main objectives:

  • develop an index to measure protection, enhancement, and mitigation of impacts to biodiversity
  • develop policies and projects to enhance biodiversity, including improving access for communities that lack access and contribute toward broader ecosystem functions and sustainability
  • develop options for community outreach and engagement. City Council directed LASAN to oversee efforts to evaluate biodiversity in the City and develop an index to measure no net loss going forward.


LASAN enthusiastically embarked on this journey and brought together interested individuals to form both an Expert Council and an interdepartmental Biodiversity Team. The collective knowledge and data resources from these esteemed individuals were tapped to measure the Singapore Index and to provide the recommendations presented throughout the report.

In order to measure the Singapore Index for the City of Los Angeles and develop recommendations for a customized Los Angeles Index and biodiversity practices, LASAN’s Internal Biodiversity Team received input from City staff and local experts via three main partnerships: 

  • An Interdepartmental Team composed of representatives from various City Departments that perform work related to biodiversity
  • A Stakeholder Group composed of individuals from City Departments, non-governmental non-profit organizations (NGOs), regulatory agencies, academics, and subject matter experts
  • An Expert Council composed of experts on various aspects of biodiversity who volunteered to lend their expertise and data to the endeavor

The Expert Council members who provided guidance on this effort represent the following organizations:  


  Arlene Hopkins & Associates LMU Center for Urban Resilience
  California EcoDesign National Park Service
  California Native Plant Society Pepperdine University
  Center for Biological Diversity The River Project
  City of Los Angeles Stillwater Sciences 
  Cooper Ecological Monitoring, Inc. Studio-MLA
  Council for Watershed Health The Nature Conservancy
  California State University, Los Angeles The Trust for Public Land
  Grown in LA University of California, Los Angeles
  Heal the Bay University of Southern California
  Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Watershed Conservation Authority
  Los Angeles Unified School District  


LASAN measured the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity as the first step in implementing the Motion. Los Angeles is the first City in the U.S. to perform this measurement, joining Helsinki, Montreal, Lisbon, and a few other global cities. LASAN embraced its leadership role in this process, bringing together interested individuals to form an Expert Council and an Interdepartmental Biodiversity Team. The collective knowledge and data resources from esteemed individuals were tapped to measure the Singapore Index and provide the recommendations presented throughout this document.

See the full 2018 Biodiversity Report

Appendix A includes supporting information, links, and references integral to the 2018 Biodiversity Report.

Appendix B
provides additional information regarding the methods used to calculate each of the 23 indicators included in the Singapore Index for the City of Los Angeles.

We welcome your feedback regarding the report.  Please take a moment to complete our brief survey.


Poppy Sketch for Biodiversity

In addition to calculating the Singapore Index for Los Angeles, the 2018 Biodiversity Report includes general suggestions that the City can employ as it works to achieve the objectives set forth in the Biodiversity Motion. The information presented is a valuable resource from which an effective biodiversity strategy, action plan, and index, unique to the City, can be developed that appropriately values biodiversity and helps to create equitable access to natural places while protecting and conserving biodiversity, maximizing the ecosystem services associated with biodiversity, and making the City of Los Angeles a better place to live. The index will be measured over time so that progress in preserving and enhancing native biodiversity can be quantified.



At the Biodiversity Workshop, we were thrilled to have the following speakers and have included links to their presentations.

Kimball Garrett - Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Avian diversity in the City of Los Angeles - Patterns and Data Sources

Mark Hostetler - University of Florida
Biodiversity Conservation - Building for Birds
Conserving Biodiversity and Bird Habitat When Land is Developed

Travis Longcore - University of Southern California
Designing for Birds in the City

Mas Dojiri - LA Sanitation
2018 City of Los Angeles Biodiversity Report

Try the "Building for Birds" online tool developed by Mark Hostetler


This workshop continued the discussion on developing a Los Angeles Biodiversity Index and the vision for biodiversity in the City. Here is a link to the presentations.

Mas Dojiri - LA Sanitation
September 2018 Expert Council Workshop

Katie Mika - City of Los Angeles Mayor's Office of Sustainability
Conserving and Enhancing L.A.'s Biodiversity

Conni Pallini-Tipton - Department of City Planning
Wildlife Study for the City of L.A.

Brad Shaffer and Joscha Beninde - UCLA
Urban Landscape Genomics of L.A.

Isaac Brown - LA Sanitation & Environment
Biodiversity Project Approach Roundtable


This meeting updated stakeholders on the development of a Los Angeles Biodiversity Index. Presentations focused on equitable access to biodiversity. Presentations are linked below.

Mas Dojiri - LA Sanitation
General Update on LASAN Biodiversity Activities

Isaac Brown - LA Sanitation & Environment
Overview of LA Index and Ecotopes

Miguel Ordeñana/Lila Higgins, Community Science Manager/Community Science Senior Manager, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Community Science: Making Nature and Science More Accessible for Angelenos

Belinda Faustinos, Executive Director, Nature for All
Access for All: From Federal Public Lands to Community Gardens

Dr. Ursula Heise, Professor and Marcia H. Howard Chair in Literary Studies at the Department of English and the Institute of Environment and Sustainability at UCLA
UCLA Lab for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS): Urban Biodiversity: Cultures, Stories, Taxonomies