ISC-Audubon promotes the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities. Native species are those that occur in the region in which they evolved. Plants evolve over geologic time in response to physical and biotic processes characteristic of a region: the climate, soils, timing of rainfall, drought, and frost; and interactions with the other species inhabiting the local community. Thus native plants possess certain traits that make them uniquely adapted to local conditions, providing a practical and ecologically valuable alternative for landscaping, conservation and restoration projects. In addition, native plants can match the finest cultivated plants in beauty, while often surpassing non-natives in ruggedness and resistance to drought, insects and disease.
The benefit of growing plants within the region they evolved is that they are more likely to thrive under the local conditions while being less likely to invade new habitats. Native plants are well adapted to local environmental conditions, maintain or improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, and often require less fertilizer and pesticides . These characteristics save time and money and reduce the amount of harmful run-off threatening the aquatic resources of our streams, rivers, and estuaries. With the large variety of grasses, ferns, wildflowers, shrubs and trees from which to choose, native plants can fulfill any landscaping need, from simple container gardens to showy perennial borders to expansive public lawns and gardens.
Native plants provide familiar sources of food and shelter for wildlife. As natural habitats are replaced by urban and suburban development, the use of native plants in landscaping can provide essential shelter for displaced wildlife. Land managers can use native plants to maintain and restore wildlife habitat.
On a broader ecological scale, planting native species contributes to the overall health of natural communities. Disturbances of intact ecosystems that open and fragment habitat, such as land clearing activities, increase the potential of invasion by alien species. Native plants provide important alternatives to alien species for conservation and restoration projects in these disturbed areas. They can fill many land management needs currently occupied by nonnative species, and often with lower costs and maintenance requirements. Once established in an appropriate area, most native plant species are hardy and do not require watering, fertilizers, or pesticides.