The region's ecosystems, habitats, and biodiversity are under stress from urbanization and climate change. Careful planning will ensure that our ecosystems, including urban habitats, thrive even as our region becomes increasingly urbanized.
The County will also help make parks and public lands more accessible and inclusive and will manage them carefully so that all residents may enjoy their benefits.

Access to Parks and Open Space

  • 29.7% of the County is comprised of parks, recreational facilities, open space and natural areas
  • Only 49% of the population lives within a ½ mile walk of a park, recreational facility or regional open space (natural areas not included in this analysis).
  • This represents great inequity within the region with respect to access to parks and the many benefits that they provide.
  • In addition, the County currently has not completed the necessary analyses to conduct an access assessment to the natural areas. This data is critical in assessing the distribution of ecosystem services that these areas provide. Although access to these places are more restricted due to their limited occurrence near urban areas, access by public transport could be a critical component to increasing engagement and enjoyment of these spaces for all residents.


Biodiversity

  • iNaturalist has recorded 4,256 distinct different species, with plants and insects being the most diverse taxa groups recorded.
  • We can expect iNaturalist data to continue to increase in the number of species reported due to the lack of coverage in some areas and the cryptic nature of some species. Thus, the total number of species should continue to increase, but a more detailed analysis of what species are being recorded and where is an important next step in understanding countywide biodiversity.
  • The UCLA Biodiversity Expert Council has identified through the use of USFWS listings, iNaturalist and eBird recordings as well as records from the Consortium of California Herbaria 38 endangered species within the County. There were also another 12 species listed as threatened. (50 total endangered or threatened species in total)
  • This data must be monitored to determine whether a decrease of species listed in the County is due to de-listing (positive change) or because the species has been extirpated from the region (negative change).

Open Space

  • 64.6% of the County is classified as natural, demonstrating the immense amount of habitat and biodiversity found in our region. This does not include degraded natural areas, nor non-native grasses and shrubs that threaten our native ecosystems and species.
  • 34.9% of LA County is protected under federal, state, county, city, special district, nonprofit or private entity representing a vast gap between the amount of natural area the county has versus the amount it protects.
  • With respect to critical habitat linkages identified in the Southern Coast Wildlands Missing Linkages report in 2008, as of 2018 only 57.4% of those zones are protected at any level.

California Protected Areas by Agency (2018)


Wetlands

  • Wetland habitat is dispersed throughout the county, however all of our most critical wetland habitats have been degraded significantly by development.
  • In LA County,
    26.3% of sites sampled received a score of 1 (most intact),
    22.4 % received a score of 2 (slightly degraded),
    11.8% received a score of 3 (significantly degraded), and
    39.5% received a score of 4 (most disturbed)
  • Out of the four watersheds present in LA County, the Los Angeles Watershed had the highest percentage of most disturbed sites (49.2%)
  • Out of the 3 land use types categorized, Urban had the highest percentage of most disturbed sites (89.6%)
Condition of Stream Miles, CRAM, LA County Watersheds (2014-2017)
Condition of Stream Miles, CRAM, LA County Land Uses (2014-2017)

Community Science Initiatives

  • In 2016 the LA County Natural History Museum conducted only one, 1-day program. In 2017, they held six 1-day programs and in 2018, they held thirteen 1-day programs.
  • All of LA County NHM’s community science driven projects significantly increased in observations and species recorded from 2016 to 2017, with most continuing to increase from 2017 to 2018.
  • LA County NHM’s ongoing projects have recorded 48,746 observations, 3,493 species from 3,022 participants.
  • Los Angeles’ rank in the City Nature Challenge has decreased from the first challenge in 2016 when the region achieved first in all categories (# observations, # species, # observers/participants) to 2017 where LA County only received first place for the number of observers/participants and finally in 2018 LA County placed fifth to ninth across all three categories. However, Los Angeles increased the number of observations made, increased the number of species recorded for all years and increased the number of observers/participants from 2016 to 2017.