With the continued suburbanization of the country, it’s getting harder and harder for wildlife to find a place they can call their own. With that concern in mind, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) established the concept of Certified Wildlife Habitats in 1973. Since that time, approximately 200,000 habitats have been registered by the organization.
What is a Certified Wildlife Habitat?
A Certified Wildlife Habitat transforms a yard, balcony or roof into an outdoor space that is attractive to wildlife, while remaining pleasant for people. Rather than maintaining a neatly trimmed lawn that provides relatively few resources to wildlife, property owners use careful landscaping and gardening to make the space an oasis for wildlife.
According to the NWF, these zones, no matter how small, must include all of the following:
- Food – Use native plants to produce nectar, seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, foliage and pollen that animals use and consume.
- Water – Provide water for animals to live in, drink and bathe. Water sources can be as simple as a bird bath and as complicated as a pond installation.
- Cover – Use plants and landscaping to shelter animals from inclement weather. Shelters can include fixtures such as shade trees, thick groundcover and snags (dead trees left in place).
- Places to Raise Young – Offer nest boxes and other sheltered areas that give wildlife opportunities to safely produce and rear offspring.
- Sustainable Practices – Maintain and manage the Certified Wildlife Habitat to keep it attractive to wildlife (and at least somewhat useable for you) by letting nature run its course or through careful use of environmentally-friendly pest control and fertilizers.
- .. And a Final Step – Once you’ve properly established the healthy, sustainable habitat for local wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation asks you to get the area certified, which provides you with special privileges and merchandise through the NWF.
With all these components in place, you can expect a slow but steady influx of wildlife into their new eco-friendly habitat. Remember that by including native plants, native animal species will also benefit, so it’s important to take care of both!
Enjoying Your Certified Wildlife Habitat
While your Certified Wildlife Habitat is primarily developed to help local wildlife thrive, you should also take steps to allow you and your friends and family to enjoy it too.
Make sure to provide space for simple walking paths. Clear out areas for benches to give you an opportunity to watch the life teeming around you. Trim vegetation to provide you with a good view. You’ll also want to carefully cultivate and encourage your favorite native plants to suit your personal tastes.
All these ideas allow you to beautify your Certified Wildlife Habitat without compromising the principles set forth by the NWF. In short, it’s a win for wildlife and it’s a win for you!
Upkeep of a Certified Wildlife Habitat
Once you’ve successfully created a Certified Wildlife Habitat, you also need to manage it. That’s where the sustainable practices requirement really comes into play – you will maintain the area to keep you and your wild visitors safe and happy.
In fact, your best bet is to treat the Certified Wildlife Habitat like it’s an organic garden! Doing so is a simple mental trick for guiding your management decisions. With that in mind, know that Safer® Brand offers several OMRI Listed® solutions that are deemed compliant for use in organic production to help organic gardeners, including:
- EndALL® Insect Killer – An OMRI Listed® spray that uses potassium salts of fatty acids and neem oil to control pest insects in a way that does not persist in the environment.
- BioNEEM® Insecticide – An OMRI Listed® insecticide and repellent concentrate that targets pest insects with azadirachtin to disrupt their growth.
- Japanese Beetle Traps – A simple pheromone-based trap that catches these invasive bugs.
- Caterpillar Killer II – Use this OMRI Listed® concentrate to rid an area of invasive and destructive caterpillars and worms.
Special Help for a Certified Wildlife Habitat
Have you set up a Certified Wildlife Habitat in your yard? Or maybe you manage one at work, school, your church or other facility? We want to know about it! Share pictures of your habitat with the Safer® Brand community on Facebook.
Also, if you are looking for a little more help maintaining a Certified Wildlife Habitat, try subscribing to the Safer® Brand E-Newsletter! We offer helpful article links about organic gardening and lawn care, as well as announcements from Safer® Brand.