If you have followed this blog for long, you probably know that my strong interest in eco-friendly gardening started because of my desire to attract more birds, butterflies and other creatures to my yard and gardens. AND my efforts to garden for wildlife became more focused after I learned about the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Certified Wildlife Habitat (CWH) program. I really wanted to get my yard certified.
My favorite article in the issue is called Certified Success, and it is about a woman named Stephanie Widows who did a study, as part of her master’s program, to determine how successful the NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat program is in providing habitat.
For the study, Widows visited 50 homes that have certified habitats and evaluated them to see the quantity and quality of wildlife habitat that each yard had. She compared both the habitat elements and the number of wildlife species on these properties to nearby properties and to other, randomly selected properties in the same neighborhoods.
Her study concluded that the certified properties did, indeed, provide more beneficial habitat AND had more wildlife species than the neighboring yards which were used for comparison. In fact, the certified yards had more than TWICE as many species present as the other yards which were visited.
Most people who garden for wildlife can attest to the fact that their eco-friendly gardening definitely does bring in the wildlife. I am sitting outside while I am writing this and can see several species of birds and butterflies and even hear a hummingbird up chittering away in the trees. I know that most of that wildlife is here only because I have made a concerted effort to attract it.
I also know that there haven’t been many official studies done to PROVE that gardening for wildlife makes a difference. I’ve looked for research on the topic before and know it was very limited. So I was excited to read about Ms. Widows ' research.
Of course, you don’t have to have your yard certified in the NWF CWH program to attract wildlife. Certainly, anyone can create an eco-friendly landscape with wildlife in mind and provide the same benefits. But with almost 150,000 homes enrolled in the program (adding up to some 300,000 acres of habitat) the program did provide a great basis for Ms. Widows' study.
To qualify for certification in the NWF CWH program, a property must provide wildlife with food, water, shelter and places to raise their young. Other sustainable gardening practices which allow a property to earn certification are:
- the use of rain barrels
- water-wise landscaping
- rain gardens
- integrated pest management
- removal of non-native plants
- use of native plants
- reduced lawn areas
- elimination of chemicals
10 Tips for Creating a Wildlife Friendly Garden
How I Became a Bird Nerd