Bergen County Audubon Society
Certified Wildlife Garden Program
By Don Torino, President, BCAS
For all of us that have grown up or have lived anywhere in New Jersey for any length of time, we all know far too well how many natural surroundings we have lost over the years. Today our preserved natural areas have become a quilt work of fragmented fields and forests surrounded by suburban over-development and landscaped with foreign plant species. This has stressed our bird, butterfly and pollinator populations to their limits, with little left for their battle for survival. New Jersey may be the first state to reach “build-out “, which simply means that one day all land in the garden state will be either built on or preserved and that will be it. In the end, that will leave us with vast areas of wasteland when it comes to wildlife unless we save the landscape in which we live.
In a concerted effort to connect and expand our forests, nature centers and preserves with a series of stepping stones that benefit migratory birds, butterflies and other wildlife, Bergen County Audubon Society (BCAS) introduced a program that the entire community can take part in. Our Certified Wildlife Garden program will allow homeowners, communities, schools, businesses, places of worship, nature centers and others anywhere in New Jersey to have their gardens that benefit wildlife certified by Bergen County Audubon Society. These certified gardens will be based primarily on the diversity of native plants in the landscape, which are the foundation of a healthy wildlife habitat. This program will help create and track wildlife environments that will ultimately form rest-stops to benefit not only our year round wildlife, but the migratory species well.
Certified gardens will be given a number and marked on a map to illustrate wildlife areas that have been created. The map will be available on our website www.bergencountyaudubon.org. Upon completion and submission of your application, it will be reviewed and, if approved, you will be awarded a certificate for your efforts. The certificate will be emailed to you free of charge. Also, lawn signs may be provided for free on a limited basis.
This is something we all can do today. We will not need to write letters, call our representatives or a hold picket sign. No matter the size of your yard, you have the power to turn it into a beautiful landscape that benefits our birds and butterflies, and will help our future generations of both people and wildlife live in a much healthier and happier community.