Natural Habitat Restoration & Management

Small fragments of a unique ecosystem called the Franciscan landscape, part of the larger Bay/Delta region, still exist in San Francisco today. The Franciscan landscape developed in the wildlands that once extended from San Bruno Mountain to the Golden Gate Headlands. Its unusual combination of climatic, floristic, and geologic features supported the development of a biologically diverse assemblage of plants and animals, some of which were unique to the area. Most of the remnant fragments of the Franciscan landscape are what we call natural areas.

Of the 3,500 acres and 230 parks in San Francisco managed by the Recreation and Parks Department, natural areas comprise more than 1,100 acres in 32 parks or portions of parks, including most of the undeveloped portions of Twin Peaks, Lake Merced, and Glen Canyon Park are designated natural areas. Natural areas do not contain manicured lawns, ball fields, or ornamental flowerbeds. Most of Golden Gate Park–approximately 96 percent–is not a natural area.

People of all ages find refuge in these urban oases. Natural areas give the people of San Francisco a sense of place and distinguish it from anywhere else on earth. Preserving San Francisco’s historic natural features is as important as preserving its cultural legacy. Urban natural areas also provide rewarding educational and volunteer opportunities. Through the Recreation and Parks Department’s Youth Stewardship Program, urban schoolchildren have an opportunity to experience and learn about the nature that exists in their own backyards and neighborhoods; our volunteer program gives adults and youth alike an opportunity to help restore and become stewards of our rich natural heritage.

Management Plan
A critical component of the Natural Resources Division was the development of a restoration and management plan that provides a scientifically sound planning framework to manage these areas. Several planning and policy efforts preceded the development of this plan and form the foundation of its goals and recommendations. Among the plan’s goals are:

  • Promoting biodiversity & sustainable landscapes
  • Restoring native flora & fauna
  • Promoting soil and water conservation
  • Improving resiliency to climate change
  • Advocating for environmental justice

View the Natural Resources Management Plan

Forestry/Tree Management
Trees are an important resource to the people of San Francisco and the varied wildlife species that utilize the urban forests within the City, and in an urban setting, methods such as thinning is necessary to ensure a healthy environment for tree growth.

As important of a resource as the trees are, the species that have been planted throughout the natural areas are almost entirely non-native and most are also invasive. These include eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus sp.), Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), Monterey pine (Pinus radiata), acacia (Acacia longifolia, Acacia melanoxylon), plume acacia (Albizia lophantha), and myoporum (Myoporum laetum). While some of these species are native to California, none of them are native to San Francisco.

Fire Abatement Best Practices (coming soon)