In celebration of Earth Day, the Delaware Nature Society (DNS) is encouraging individuals to help make an impact on nature at home with the Certified Wildlife Habitat program. The program, conducted through a partnership between the Delaware Nature Society and the National Wildlife Federation, provides official recognition for properties that meet five criteria necessary for wildlife: food, water, cover, places for wildlife to raise young and wildlife-friendly landscaping practices. Creating environmentally conscience individuals at home, DNS hopes to increase awareness of environmental protection and the fragility of Delaware’s natural resources.
“Every day is Earth Day, we should think about how we depend on our environment and how our actions greatly affect it,” commented Jason Beale, Manager of the Abbott’s Mill Nature Center. “We are still dependent on our ecosystem.”
With 87% of Delaware land privately owned, according to DNS, the organization states that programs such as the Certified Wildlife Habitat and backyard conservation efforts are “key to protecting and supporting local wildlife.” Many homeowners have lawns that exclude native plants which can mean the loss of the insects, birds and animals that depend on them. The creation of Wildlife Habitats can provide wildlife with the essential for their survival including food, water, cover and a place to raise young.
The program focuses on essentials to human life including water and air. According to the Delaware Nature Society, only 4% of Delaware waters are considered safe for swimming. The organization states that the biggest threat to Delaware’s water is contaminated runoff from yards, farms, roads, and construction sites. Certified Wildlife Habitats can help to ensure cleaner, safer water for people and wildlife by limiting the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and by reducing storm water runoff and lawn watering. DNS states that Americans spend more than $1 billion on fertilizers and pesticides each year.
“Water is a community resource we all depend on and we need to make sure to protect it,” stated Beale.
The organization encourages home owners to reduce lawn area, and in turn reduce mowing, which can reduce air pollution and use nature in ways that help energy costs. By planting deciduous trees such as maples,oaks and other trees that shed their leaves seasonally, individuals can save between 10-50% on cooling costs during the summer months. Evergreen trees can block wind and save up to 20% on winter heating needs. Through the Delaware Nature Society, individuals will be educated on how to plan and maintain a sustainable garden that will better serve the natural environment.
“The program will show people how to use plants that can fit not only the aesthetic needs of the homeowner but also serve the surrounding wildlife,” commented Beale. “It can be geared towards birds and butterflies and build up the natural ecology so the garden can support itself.”
To date over 1,000 individuals in Delaware have made their yards Certified Wildlife Habitats. To be a part of the program, individuals can fill out a Certified Wildlife Habitat on the Delaware Nature Society website at http://www.delawarenaturesociety.org/WhyCertifiedWildlifeHabitat.