BY Amy Kobak
“Certified Wildlife Habitat,” that’s what the sign posted in my yard says. It’s right at the entrance to my driveway so that when people turn in, they can’t miss it. My husband hung it there last week. Nothing has changed about our yard, but now we have a sign.
Years ago I learned about the Certified Wildlife Habitat program through the National Wildlife Federation. I think it may have been called Backyard Wildlife Habitat at the time. I always thought it was a neat idea and even filled out the application once. I never went through with it though because I didn’t think it was necessary to pay $15 for a certificate acknowledging what I already knew about my yard. But I remained a fan of the NWF. They appeal to me because of the efforts they make to educate and support both grand scale and seemingly miniscule wildlife preservation efforts. The certified Wildlife Habitat program is an example of both. A tiny apartment balcony can become certified as well as a campus or even a community. All those balconies, backyards, and campuses combined are making a big difference for wildlife.
In order to become a Certified Wildlife Habitat there are five specifications that must be met. Three food sources, one water source, two places for cover, two places to raise young, and a minimum of two sustainable gardening practices must be in place. The application makes it easy to know what you have and what you could add or change to meet the requirements.
So why did I decide to become certified now? I found out about the sign. I wanted to put the sign in my yard to promote curiosity. I want everyone who sees the sign to ask me about it. It is my hope that it will encourage others to investigate how they can make their yards better for wildlife, better for the environment. It’s easy to do when you are informed. The NWF website is a great source for this information and you too may wish to have your habitat certified.
By the way, another organization active in promoting discussions in order to help wildlife is the Center for Biological Diversity. They have created rareearthtones.org where you can download free ring tones of the sounds of endangered and rare species. It is sure to attract attention when your ring tone is the sound of a giant panda!