Chaparral: California’s Misunderstood Biodiversity Hotspot

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EcoJustice RadioEcoJustice Radio considers how to foster deeper connections with the chaparral ecosystem and how public education can protect this important biodiversity hotspot and lead to minimizing wildfire dangers with Rick Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute.

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Rick Halsey, Chaparral InstituteConnecting With and Protecting The Wild California Chaparral

Rick Halsey champions California’s most distinctive wildland, the Chaparral. This ecosystem is prevalent all throughout the state. If you have lived, camped, hiked, just been out in nature in California then you have seen it. It is found in the coastal foothills and interior mountains. It is considered a global biodiversity hotspot because of a wide array of plant and animal life found nowhere else on Earth.

But these rugged woody shrublands are undervalued and underappreciated, and repeated and ongoing attempts have been made to eradicate chaparral from the landscape. Why? Some believe it not aesthetically pleasing, others fear it as fuel for fires, both misnomers that our guest proves wrong.

For decades, science focused on transforming chaparral to grasslands more useful for livestock grazing. Today, public under-appreciation of chaparral continues, made worse by the unfortunate construction of poorly planned housing developments in landscapes adapted to drought and fire, but not to flammable houses and flame-sparking people and power lines.

On this episode, we want to consider how people can foster deeper connections with the wild nature, including a greater appreciation of the chaparral and its biodiversity. We focus on how public education around these mountain shrublands and the bountiful wildlife that calls it home, can lead to minimizing wildfire dangers, and protecting and restoring this important native habitat.

STORY: Ecological Amnesia: Life Without Wild Things

Rick HalseyOur guest, Richard Halsey is the Director of the California Chaparral Institute, a non-profit research and educational organization dedicated to the preservation of California’s native chaparral ecosystem and supporting the creative spirit as inspired by Nature. Check out his book Fire, Chaparral, and Survival in Southern California.

Podcast Website: http://ecojusticeradio.org/
Podcast Blog: https://www.wilderutopia.com/category/ecojustice-radio/
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Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Interview by Carry Kim
Intro by Jessica Aldridge
Engineer: Blake Lampkin
Show Created by Mark and JP Morris
Music: Javier Kadry
Episode 109
Image: California Chaparral Institute

Update 21 September 2021

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist and designer, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Partners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt