Large industrial parks and corporate parks, retail strip malls, and box stores more than likely are situated on what once was productive habitat. The grading and paving and landscaping that goes along with commercial development strips away the land's natural benefits, including its ability to absorb storm water and provide habitat for wildlife.
How do commercial properties impact birds and the environment?
Bird habitat is often destroyed in the wake of high impact, large-scale development. In addition, the landscape surrounding corporate properties is usually planted with turf grass and exotic vegetation, which, unlike most native plants, often needs supplemental watering and applications of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to survive. Development often transforms a thriving forest, meadow, or desert ecosystem that sustained wildlife into a sterile and comparatively lifeless tract.
However, low-impact development, restorative landscaping, and the management of commercial properties as habitat can reduce maintenance costs, protect natural resources such as waterways, create or sustain biodiversity, protect native organisms, eliminate or reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and minimize runoff. The natural green space can also be a benefit to people, reducing stress and increasing concentration and productivity. Researchers at Texas A&M and the University of Michigan noted positive behavior changes in people who were able to view trees and plants.
With birds as the focus, the protection or re-establishment of resources that benefit wildlife will translate into fewer species becoming displaced, greater biodiversity, and increased opportunities for people to connect with nature.
Getting Started: What You Can Do
- Enlist the help of green trade organizations such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), as well as ecological landscapers, to create buildings that have greatly reduced ecological impacts over traditional construction.
- Implement low-impact development techniques to minimize stormwater runoff and protect natural water resources.
- Create habitat on underutilized parts of the landscape or restore areas that might have been altered or affected by the grading and construction of the land.
- Landscape commercial properties with vegetation and other features to support a few of the birds that need the most help in your area.
- Design windows to eliminate bird collisions. Turn off lights at night, especially during migration, to fully eliminate the potential of birds crashing into the building as a result of spatial disorientation caused by artificial light.
- As an employee, ask building owners to landscape with native plants, educate co-workers as to the benefits of natives, and volunteer to help care for the gardens.