Individual actions taken to reduce our use of natural resources and impact on the environment are important steps to achieving a sustainable environment. However, an even greater impact on ecological health takes place when neighbors work together to create larger habitats for the long-term sustainability of the plants, animals, and other organisms that we coexist with. Wildlife management associations, habitat groups, watershed coalitions, and cooperatives organize adjacent or nearby landowners and other citizens with common goals to plan and discuss best practices for the sustainability of habitats and wildlife populations.
Why is working together important to birds and the environment?
Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation are the leading causes of population declines in birds, other wildlife, and plants. Roughly 2.1 million acres of wildlife habitat are converted to residential use every year. Many birds of conservation concern need territories of vast, unobstructed habitat to survive. The decline of many grassland and wetland bird species can be attributed primarily to the loss of habitat, either by complete destruction or patch isolation. Efforts to retain or restore broad tracks of rich habitat are crucial to the survival of both common birds and more specialized species.
While implementing the best landscaping practices on an individual property can help support wildlife and protect natural resources, a more effective approach is to link adjacent properties through a broader management plan. Whether it's a suburban neighborhood, a subdivided ranch, or a multi-unit building complex, a community effort to create and manage a habitat will benefit wildlife and people.
Community organizations also provide opportunities for social interaction and a forum for presentations by experts in the field. Partnerships with public administrations, government agencies, nonprofit groups, schools, and businesses can strengthen the efforts of habitat enhancement organizations. Federal habitat incentive programs can assist landowners in the planning, funding, and management of restoration or enhancement of habitat, including wetlands.
Getting Started: What You Can Do
- Form a group of like-minded neighbors to begin discussing the management of a particular habitat.
- Contact local environmental groups such as land trusts or watershed coalitions, public officials, and government agencies (see incentive programs listed under "Helpful Links") to inform them of your ideas and to see what support they can offer.
- Select a few species of greatest conservation concern in your area, and make a plan to attract and sustain them in your community.
- Assess existing resources and information, create a program, and implement the plan.
- Publicize your efforts and outreach to the community throughout the process.
- Monitor your impact.
- Contact your local Audubon Chapter