Communities Communing: Building a Certified Wildlife Habitat
by Amy Lignor
Everyone knows, whether “green” minded or not, that human activity, such as building homes, has brought harm to wildlife. The more the country expands, the smaller the wildlife areas become, ever-
shrinking until there will be none left whatsoever for the animals to call home.
However, with the National Wildlife Federation’s help, more and more communities and neighborhoods are halting the elimination of habitats locally, and teaching on a global scale what can be done to save everything from birds to butterflies to plants and shrubs that are literally the last of their kind.
What may seem like an extremely large undertaking is actually started with something very small, easy to do and easy to keep up: planting a simple wildlife garden in the neighborhood or even in the backyard. This garden is a sustainable habitat for all kinds of creatures, small wildlife, plants and bushes, songbirds – things that will not only get a better chance of survival, but also provide you with a glorious place to sit and relax while watching nature in motion.
These wildlife habitat “gardens” begin at ground level, by planting the native plant species of your area that wildlife around you depend on. Then, as your project becomes even bigger, you can add other things to enhance that garden so even more species have a home.
The list of amenities for the wildlife garden is short and simple. It includes food, which would be the native plants, seeds, berries, fruits, etc. that a variety of wildlife exist on. Water, of course, because all animals need that to survive, bathe, and even breed. Shelter or cover for the animals so they can face the bad weather as well as have a place to hide from predators. Truly, those are the only three things needed. Figuring out how best to manage your garden so it can have only good effects by keeping the soil, air, water and habitat healthy, not only will provide for a wildlife community but also for the human neighbors right next door.
The landscape around you and available to you is another consideration. If in open, dry spaces, you can
produce a meadow setting by planting grasses and wildflowers that are drought tolerant and need full direct sunlight conditions. If you live on more rocky terrain, you will create a glade setting with the correct shrubs and sedums to help the local wildlife. And if you live in the more moist areas of the world, with wet soil similar to marsh settings, you will make sure that wetland and bog plants and grasses are there in order to attract the critters that need these things to thrive.
When it comes to being in a forest area with many hardwood trees, you or your entire neighborhood can come together to provide that perfect forest setting with the large canopy cover for the animals. This particular setting allows for scattered layers of woodsy plants, such as ferns and shade-thriving perennials.
In other words, no matter what your surroundings happen to be, you can build a wildlife habitat garden that will provide everything these animals need.
Some of the greatest news is that when you are all set up, your community can actually certify the wildlife garden with the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat program (www.nwf.org).
There are two goals to reach for this particular certification. One, a certain number of homes, schools and common areas must provide the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise their young. The program also requires sustainable gardening practices (examples: reduce water usage, remove invasive plants, and eliminate pesticides). Two, communities will earn education and outreach points through various activities (examples: educating citizens at community events, native plant sales, stream clean-ups, and much more).
The NWF Community Wildlife Habitat lets each community concentrate on their local priorities; whereas some focus their efforts on water conservation, others set their sights on creating wildlife corridors by connecting parks and community areas to new Certified Wildlife Habitats.
The NWF also supports these communities and their citizens by giving them monthly progress reports showing which properties have been certified in their community. The organization also gives full access to the NWF Community Wildlife Habitat Resource Center online, which allows all communities to connect, as well as join in on bi-monthly conference calls. Products given out are free paper applications and paper tip sheets discussing everything from pollinators to creating and building nesting areas, as well as giving updated information on the best and most neighborhood-friendly wildlife gardening practices. Not to mention, a 30% discount on merchandise from the NWF catalog is awarded to all participating volunteers.
Not only will you be receiving certification, but you and your community will be able to enjoy the absolute beauty that your wildlife habitats provide.
Source: Baret News