Creating Healthy Habitats to Bring Nature Back Home
Urban sprawl is a growing triple threat: it destroys habitat, crowds out native flora and fauna, and spreads invasive species. In Northern Virginia, sprawl has reduced both the quantity and quality of available natural habitat and that has taken a toll on the area’s native bird and wildlife populations.
To help, the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia has developed “Audubon at Home” native plant starter kits to help homeowners create wildlife habitat right in their backyards. They’ve developed the kits with the help of Earth Sangha, a non-profit devoted to ecological restoration, and the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, and created a workshop to train volunteer ambassadors to distribute the kits throughout the community to homeowners, schools, and other local property owners. They also provided the kits to Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia’s “A Brush with Kindness” program, which helps beautify the yards of Habitat for Humanity homes.
Audubon Society of Northern Virginia has already had critical success with its Audubon at Home program; since spring 2010, 50 properties covering almost 300 acres were certified as Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuaries. A 2011 Innovation Grant allowed them to expand the program, certifying 50 properties and reaching an underserved population through Habitat for Humanity. Slowly, they are introducing native habitat back to the sprawling suburbs of Northern Virginia, while bringing birds and butterflies into people’s backyards.