Bethlehem Backyards for Wildlife (student guest post)
This week at a meeting of Green Action, a student club at Lehigh University, a representative from Bethlehem Backyards for Wildlife came to our meeting to suggest that Lehigh certify a few more areas on campus as NWF (National Wildlife Federation) wildlife habitats. The location surrounding STEPS was certified a few years ago, but she was asking for our help in creating and identifying more sites.
Bethlehem Backyards for Wildlife is a much smaller branch of the Garden for Wildlife program run by the National Wildlife Federation. The goal of the program is to have people register their yards, local schools, or college campuses as Certified Wildlife Habitats.
What exactly does it take to certify an area as a good wildlife habitat? A range of resources need to be present, including food, water, shelter, and places for small animals and birds to raise young. To provide a source of food, you can establish plants that provide nectar, nuts, seeds, and berries and/or install feeders. Water sources might include a pond, fountain, creek, or simply a bird bath. Low lying shrubs or bushes are ideal for providing shelter, and a place to raised young. Bird houses or other types of artificial shelters can also be used.
The program also encourages communities to “plant for biodiversity” by planting native species instead of non-native or invasive species. It also encourages participants to plant just a few individuals of various plant species instead of many of single kind. Even more importantly, they support the use of natural, safer alternatives to chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
How did Bethlehem Backyards for Wildlife form? The Garden for Wildlife program of NWF offers a certification for Community Habitats, providing an incentive for backyards, schools, and even businesses and other public places to make protecting wildlife habitats a priority. Interestingly, the entire city of Bethlehem is currently seeking certification. As well as creating wildlife habitats, the group holds gardening workshops and community clean ups.
So what can we do at Lehigh? We at the Green Club are going to determine what areas can already be certified on the campus, and assess ways that resources like water, food, and shelter can be added to other areas. What can you do at home? Investigate how you can make your backyard more wildlife friendly and then certify it! Currently there are 154,375 locations that have been certified. Hopefully you can help increase this number!!!!