Zoo Update: October 2021

Denise M. Verret, Zoo Director and CEO Photo by Jamie Pham

by Denise M. Verret, L.A. Zoo CEO and Director 

As summer transitions to fall, I’m reminded of the adaptations and changes of our local native ecosystems and the importance of our care and awareness in protecting these vital habitats to ensure sustainability and a cooperative environment for flora and fauna to thrive. On June 19, the L.A. Zoo’s Conservation Committee started the first of many upcoming projects as part of our Conservation Strategic Plan, with an emphasis on local initiatives that include the community. The Conservation Committee, in partnership with the L.A. Parks Foundation and Griffith Park Commonwealth Nursery, planted an experimental micro-forest at the Bette Davis Picnic Area of Griffith Park. The intention of this project is to create a fully self-sustaining native habitat in Los Angeles using the Miyawaki method of afforestation. This method uses only local, native species planted in a layered design to promote an increased rate of growth. All of the seeds for the 145 individual plants transplanted into this micro-forest were collected directly from Griffith Park and grown at the Commonwealth Nursery.

Volunteers returned to the Bette Davis Picnic Area on September 19 to remove invasive weeds, track the impressive growth of the forest, and record the local biodiversity already calling this habitat home. We are on the right track for success as this 90-day milestone has already shown fantastic progress. By working with our partners and all of you to start conserving wildlife right here in Los Angeles, we are committing to creating and protecting sustainable ecosystems.

This is the just the beginning of what will be the future of conservation at the Los Angeles Zoo. This project, and the Zoo’s Conservation Strategic Plan as a whole, sheds an important light on the crucial role zoos play in meaningfully engaging and including people of all walks of life with nature. And by partnering with the L.A. Parks Foundation, we will determine if this rapid forestation process is appropriate for Los Angeles, potentially providing a low-cost method to quickly add native habitats in parks and other areas throughout Los Angeles. More opportunities will be coming for the Los Angeles Zoo to help restore habitat in Griffith Park and conserve species using the Miyawaki method. Together, with your help, we can continue our shared vision of creating a just and sustainable world where people and wildlife thrive, together.

Author: Denise Verret