As the world’s population has increased, so, too, has the need to accommodate such growth. Areas that were wild as recently as 100 years ago may have long since been overrun by housing and urban development, leaving little space for local wildlife to call home.
According to the World Wildlife Federation’s “Living Planet Report 2018,” populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians declined by 60 percent in the roughly 40 years prior to the report’s release. The WWF notes that the primary threats to wildlife populations, which include habitat loss and degradation, can be directly linked to human activities.
If human activities contributed to the decline of wildlife populations, then there’s hope that human activities also can spur the return of such populations. The Animal Welfare Institute notes that the following are some things that ordinary citizens can do to help local wildlife.
- Exercise your right to engage in the political process. Voting may be the simplest way to engage in the democratic process, but it’s by no means the only way people can make their voices heard. Write to local and national government officials and encourage them to support and/or introduce policies that protect wildlife.
- Plant native species. Native species of flowers, trees and bushes provide food and shelter to local wildlife. When designing landscapes and gardens, speak with a local lawn and garden professional about which species are native to your area and do your best to plant those species. Gardeners may be frustrated when local wildlife eat plants or flowers they worked hard to plant, but the right species may even grow back during the same season after being eaten by local wildlife.
- Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard. A pristine lawn can be eye-catching, but lawns do not provide significant food and shelter to local wildlife. Garden beds, native plants and flowers provide both aesthetic appeal and food for local wildlife.
- Embrace a new approach to fall cleanup. Gathering and discarding fallen leaves and dead flower heads is an autumn tradition that many homeowners do not look forward to. Thankfully, a wildlife-friendly approach to fall cleanup can benefit local animals and save homeowners the hassle of fall cleanup. For example, insect-eating birds can survive an entire winter by consuming insects that spend their winters on dead plant stems. Homeowners can speak with a local lawn and garden center to determine wildlife-friendly ways to approach fall cleanup in their yards.
- Volunteer with local environmental organizations. Local environmental organizations are always in need of some helping hands, and these groups do tremendous work to protect and restore local ecosystems. Organizations may sponsor a host of programs that can benefit local wildlife, such as beach cleanups, invasive plant removal projects and native plant planting days.
Taking steps to protect local wildlife can be a great way to restore local ecosystems and wildlife populations.