|This Certified Wildlife Habitat in Austin is thriving with native plants for butterflies and hummingbirds.|
Austin, Texas recently became the largest city in the nation to be certified as a Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).
To earn the distinction, Austin residents took on environmental stewardship projects such as removing invasive plant species from parks and hosting gardening know-how workshops throughout the city. Community members also got to work making hundreds of landscapes meet the criteria to become NWF Certified Wildlife Habitats. Austin is now home to more than 900 Certified Wildlife Habitats, which include parks, businesses, schools and individual yards.
Alice Nance, conservation program coordinator for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, says Certified Wildlife Habitats welcome animals by providing food, water, shelter and a place for them to raise their little ones. These habitats must be maintained using sustainable gardening practices, meaning no excessive watering, and use of no or few pesticides and fertilizers.
Nance says one of the most exciting results of the Community Wildlife Habitat project has been the increased biodiversity popping up in the city’s gardens. And flora and fauna aren’t the project’s only beneficiaries: Nance hopes the environmental initiatives will bring Austin’s residents closer to nature and inspire more neighborhood pride.
Thirty-one other U.S. cities have earned NWF’s title of Community Wildlife Habitat. Visit Keep Austin Wild for more information on Austin’s wildlife conservation efforts, and check out the NWF website to find out how you can make your community a Community Wildlife Habitat.
Megan Hirt is an Associate Editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Find her on Google+.