Neighborhood Wildlife Corridors Project

above: Atala caterpillars on coontie, a native cycad;
below: Atala butterfly by Marc Minno
by Debra L. Klein, FNPS Education Chair

Several years ago, I became aware of the absence of habitat for native birds, butterflies, and other insects in urban areas, and an increasing need to incorporate native plants into the landscape. Native plants (which naturally attract native wildlife) need no pesticides, as they co-evolved with insects, birds, etc. that successfully keep pests in check - by eating them. In short, there is balance. Further, native vegetation, when sited appropriately (where cultural needs like light, soil pH, and moisture are naturally met), is not taxing to Florida's limited water supply, as it does not typically need supplementary irrigation after establishment (unlike most lawns and ornamentals). Biodiversity, symbiotic relationships, and nominal maintenance needs typify healthy natural areas. These attributes do not need to be limited to "wild places"; they can be created on a smaller scale in residential backyards. Those yards, in turn, can connect with one another to form wildlife corridors within the context of residential areas. I began the "Neighborhood Wildlife Corridors" project with that goal in mind. The objectives of this project are as follows:

1. To establish native plants in neighborhood backyard setbacks (the 10'+ of non-buildable buffer that typically runs parallel to the back property line), whereby creating wildlife corridors for migrating and other pollinating wildlife in __________ COUNTY, FLORIDA;

2. To enhance biodiversity, environmental health and public well-being by introducing residents to the wildlife that native plants attract;

3. To utilize neighborhood backyard setbacks as micro-scale restoration areas for the habitats or ecosystems that existed prior to development, whereby encouraging the presence of native pollinators (which help preserve both native plants and wildlife species);

4. To assist with the reduction of exotic, invasive species and monocultures through the establishment of native plant habitat and ecosystems in neighborhood backyard setbacks;

5. To minimize maintenance and watering (once native plants are established), whereby saving money and protecting natural resources;

6. To promote a personal connection with nature by "bringing it home", whereby encouraging environmental stewardship into the future.

This project was delivered in PowerPoint format to various governmental agencies, coupled with a request for local commissioners to sign a resolution that encourages homeowner implementation. Future plans include requisitioning the School Board to broadcast the PowerPoint to student body. In addition, I hope to have it air on the local government TV station. After all, a resolution itself is nothing without implementation, and residents' willingness to implement a resolution will largely be based on their understanding of it.

The current PowerPoint can be adapted to suit any county within Florida simply by changing the plant and wildlife images it contains. If you are interested in bringing this project to your county, please email me at greenmansion@comcast.net.

left: NWC Resolution, adopted by Martin County; right: NWC Resolution, adopted by the Town of Sewall

Neighborhood Wildlife Corridor Resolution adopted by the City of Stuart, FL

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edited by Laurie Sheldon

Comments

This sounds very interesting, I'm unaware of a state wide initiative like this in WI but there was a push for rain gardens with native plants a couple of years ago to help with water infiltration and overuse. Some local governments even offered small cash incentives for money spent on the plants.
Kathy Rainbow said…
In Chicago, so far, there are mixed messages. City departments extol the virtues of native plants and Street & Sanitation writes tickets for "weeds" over 10 inches tall, at $640 a ticket. My ticket was for milkweed which is vital for Illinois' state insect the monarch. Not to worry, wildlife corridors are too right to be wrong. Thank you for your good work!
The Jolly Bloggers said…
Good to hear it! Thanks for sharing.

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