What's Your Ecological Address?
Locating your house and backyard on a road map places it in the context of other homes and the streets that connect them. This unique, political location allows you to send and receive mail and other deliveries, guide guests to your home, and live with the security that emergency services can find you. While this place is a part of your personal identity today, it may have been home to someone else in the past and will undoubtedly be the address of another in the future.
But your backyard is much more than a named spot on a political map. It is also a place where many elements of the natural world overlap today as they have been intersecting for millions of years and will continue to meet into the future. In order to understand this place on the Earth, to learn its secrets from the past, and to act as its steward into the future, you will want to learn your Ecological Address.
Ecological Address is a term currently used to define the elements of the environment that characterize a specific locale at a certain time. One way to understand this address is to envision your spot on the road map with a variety of overlays – one showing water systems, one showing geological regions and forms, another showing climate zones, still another showing biological communities, and finally one showing land use. While all of these components are fundamental and integral to the identity of your backyard, the most complex are the many biological communities interact there. Understanding that there are multitudes of organisms that may spend their entire lives in your yard or stop to rest for just a few moments will add to your appreciation for the value of this place and your enjoyment of it.
After identifying these components of your home and backyard today, explore how this ecological address has changed over time. What elements were different 25…100….500 and even 1,000 years ago? Why did these changes take place? And what elements will change in the future? Do you have any control over these changes?
Here are some resources that will help you and your family discover your Ecological Address – past, present, and future. While an exploration of these resources at a local, backyard level will teach you much about your specific place on these maps, looking at regional and even global systems will show you how your backyard is connected with many other sites in your community, region of the country and even around the globe.
Ecosystems and Biological Communities
Birds and Other Wildlife
Download our worksheet and gather information to determine your ecological address.