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Today’s environmental news is often alarming, especially the warnings that biodiversity, a term used to describe the immense variety of life on Earth, is under siege. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warns nearly one third of known species are threatened with extinction, including 41 percent of amphibians, 26 percent of mammals, and 13 percent of birds.
It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of such dire statistics, especially because many scientists call biodiversity our life support system. Humans rely on healthy ecosystems to:
- maintain the climate
- break down wastes and toxins
- recycle nutrients
- filter and purify water
- purify air
- enrich the soil
- provide natural resources such as wood and textiles
- supply food and medicines
But there’s good news: We can create healthier, more diverse ecosystems right in our own backyards. Urbanization in the United States, with its associated skyscrapers, traffic, asphalt, noise, and pollution, is one of the leading causes of species endangerment. Urban sprawl is contributing to thecollapse of honey bee populations and the dramatic decline in Monarch butterfly colonies.
The Biodiversity in Urban Gardens (BUG) research project, a large-scale, eight-year British study, indicates what we plant in our yards and gardens has a significant effect on the biodiversity of a city. By designing outdoor spaces to attract and accommodate birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals, gardeners create safe corridors for wildlife and protect endangered species.
A gardener can take a number of steps to make over a typical yard into a healthy, diverse ecosystem, and the transformation often begins with a change in mindset.
Continue reading the tips and steps to make your backyard a wildlife-friendly space