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Photo credit: Nurit Katz

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.



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Photo credit: Nurit Katz

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:  


  Aquatic Bioassay and Consulting Laboratories, Inc. Loyola Marymount University
  Arlene Hopkins & Associates National Park Service
  Board of Public Works Northridge Beautification Foundation
  California Department of Fish & Wildlife Santa Monica College
  California EcoDesign Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
  California Native Plant Society Stillwater Sciences
  California State University Los Angeles StreetsLA
  Center for Biological Diversity Studio MLA
  Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife (CLAW) The Nature Conservancy
  City Planning Theodore Payne Foundation
  Community Forestry Advisory Committee Trust for Public Land
  Council for Watershed Health UCLA
  Department of Recreation and Parks UCLA, IoES, LENS
  Heal The Bay University of California Cooperative Extension
  LA County US Fish & Wildlife Service
  LA County Natural History Museum US Forest Service
  LA Mayor’s Office US Geological Survey
  LA Sanitation & Environment USC
  Los Angeles Unified School District Watershed Conservation Authority
  LA Zoo WestEd


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.


LASAN worked with the Biodiversity Expert Council to finalize a list of 37 indicator species for the City of Los Angeles. This list includes vertebrates and invertebrates that are avoider species, and typically are not found in built, urban environments. When these species are present, it generally means that the space possesses a broad suite of habitat quality and connectivity functions, is of sufficient size, and has relatively limited urban edge effects. LASAN's biodiversity team will track the observations of these species made on community science platforms, like iNaturalist and eBird, over time for one of the metrics in the LA City Biodiversity Index.


This LA Biodiversity Index Baseline Report presents the first official benchmark assessment of the LA City Biodiversity Index, a tool that was designed to monitor progress toward the no-net loss target presented in LA’s Green New Deal. The topics covered in the Index comprehensively assess not only what is happening to habitats and how well connected various habitats are, but how well the City is engaging with students and the larger community on the topic of biodiversity and how the City itself is working to protect endangered species and manage threats, like invasive species, via action plans and policies. The body of the report provides detailed information on the assessment of all 25 metrics in the LA City Biodiversity Index. Background information, metric scores, measurement results, a brief discussion of results, and a list of management implications are presented for each metric.


LASAN is pleased to share the 2020 Los Angeles Biodiversity Report, the second such report produced for the City of Los Angeles. This document builds upon the action items and concepts identified in the 2018 Biodiversity Report, which documented measurement of the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity for Los Angeles, and contained recommendations for a customized LA City Biodiversity Index. The report includes the following:

  • Chapter 1- the LA City Biodiversity Index
  • Chapter 2- the “ecotopes” spatial management framework
  • Chapter 3- an approach for measuring urban habitat quality and connectivity in Los Angeles
  • Chapter 4- biodiversity case studies
Please see links at the bottom of the page to download the report, accompanying appendices, and associated public presentations.


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Photo credit: Nurit Katz

The LA City Biodiversity Index is tailored specifically to the Los Angeles context and is designed to monitor progress toward the no-net loss target.  The LA City Biodiversity Index was crafted with the guidance of project stakeholders and an Expert Council of local practitioners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), scholars, and City staff.  It is intended to be institutionalized within municipal environmental management practices as a central tool in implementing a future LA Biodiversity Policy and guiding long-term management and monitoring of biodiversity stewardship. It includes three core themes of urban biodiversity: conservation of native biodiversity, social justice aspects of biodiversity, with a focus on equity, and governance and management activities.


Dr. Isaac Brown - Stillwater Sciences
LA Ecotopes: A Spacial Framework and Database for Urban Biodiversity Stewardship

Dr. Mas Dojiri and Michelle Barton - LA Sanitation & Environment

LASAN's Biodiversity Update and the Los Angeles City Biodiversity Index

Taking Action for Biodiversity

Be part of the international effort to reverse ecosystem decline. To protect and enhance biodiversity, we must work together to:
  • Connect
  • Protect
  • Restore
Incorporate biodiversity targets and goals into your agency strategic plans, and engage your staff, vendors, and partners in helping you to fulfill your goals. Use the examples below to design your target-setting processes to be inclusive and engaging.

Biodiversity Policies and Programs

Assessing biodiversity gaps and needs, and developing policies and programs to protect and enhance biodiversity are important for creating systemic and sustainable solutions. The City’s Biodiversity Index will be used to assess gaps and needs, and evaluate progress on biodiversity protection and enhancement efforts. The City’s Open Space and Conservation Framework Element outlines overarching natural resource conservation goals and objectives. The City’s General Plan Conservation Element outlines biodiversity conservation policies and programs and the responsible agencies. The City’s General Plan Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles outlines a comprehensive strategy for creating a healthy environment to support thriving communities. It includes restoring ecosystems and nature in the City. OneWaterLA, the integrated water resources plan, also provides for ecosystem restoration, while the Solid Waste Integrated Resource Plan provides for reduction in demand on natural lands for use for landfills. In addition, the City’s Community Plans, Zoning Code, Building and Safety Permit and Plan Review Requirements, Design Guidelines, and County Park Needs Assessment provide more detailed direction on how and where to implement these higher level plans. Click on Biodiversity Policy and Program Weblinks (linked to bookmarked sections below - each could be a separate subpage) to see a list of biodiversity-related policy and program documents and implementing ordinances.