Two reports published last month evoke both frightening alarm and a glimmer of hope. The first report, released by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, found that one million species are at risk of extinction due to climate change and loss of habitat. Sandra Diaz, co-chair of the report, said, “The evidence is crystal clear: Nature is in trouble. Therefore we are in trouble.” The second report, released by a team international scientists, lead by Tufts University professor Elizabeth Crone, found that, “When it comes to wildlife conservation efforts, urban environments could be far more helpful than we think.” Species facing climate change could be assisted by landscape planners if they focus on creating strategic ‘stepping stones’ for wildlife in urban and agricultural areas.
Landscapes designed to support wildlife can assist displaced species in their migration toward high quality habitat.
Plant Native Plants
Native plants have adapted to local environmental conditions and require less effort to thrive. They need less water, less fertilizer, and fewer pesticides. They provide habitat to native wildlife in addition to offering food sources such as pollen, nectar, nuts, cones, berries, and other seeds. They achieve all this while creating bio-diversity and saving you money.
Create Places for Cover and Nesting
Wildlife require shelter and a place to raise young. Whenever possible, preserve natural areas. To create cover, convert underutilized lawn to meadow or prairie. In unusable portions of a property, plant wooded areas that are comprised of densely branched shrubs and trees. When it doesn’t create a safety hazard or an eyesore, place hollow logs, allow dead trees to stand, and leave rock piles throughout your property. Encourage nesting by installing bird boxes, bat boxes, and plants known to host beneficial insects like Milkweed.
Provide Water for Wildlife
Wildlife require healthy sources of water. Be aware of waterways on your property, seasonal and permanent, and protect them. Develop a plan to improve water quality by reducing impervious surfaces, constructing raingardens and bioswales. Make efforts to reduce or eliminate fertilizer application to lawns. Take steps to reduce soil erosion and create filtration areas by being mindful of riparian zones.
Landscapes have long been designed, maintained, and measured by a single standard; curb appeal. In order to mitigate the effects of climate change and urbanization, our landscapes must do more. They must continue to be attractive and must also be designed and maintained to provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.