National Wildlife Federation® announced this month that the property of Tai and Andrea Montanarella, members of the Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams (EcoPel), located in Pelham Manor is now recognized as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat™ site. The property attracts a variety of birds, butterflies and other local animals by providing a wildlife-friendly landscape.

NWF began the Certified Wildlife Habitat program in 1973 and has since certified almost 150,000 habitats nationwide. The majority of these sites represent the hard work and commitment of individuals and families providing habitat near their homes, but NWF has also certified more than 3,000 schools and hundreds of business and community sites.

Any nature enthusiast can create a certified habitat. NWF provides guidelines for making landscapes more hospitable to wildlife. In order to become certified, a property must provide the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young. In addition to providing for wildlife, certified habitats conserve natural resources by reducing or eliminating the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and/or irrigation water, which ultimately protects the air, soil and water throughout our communities.

Habitats not only nurture year-round resident birds but also provide stopover sites for migratory birds traveling between their summer and winter ranges. Biologist Mark Hostetier of the University of Florida says that “urban environments are an important factor in the future conservation of many species. Not only has urban sprawl grown into the paths of stopover sites on bird flyways, but the sheer volume of human development has changed the amount of area available for nesting and overwintering.”

Creating habitats not only helps wildlife, but it can help reduce global warming pollution and save energy costs as well. Burning fossil fuels to heat and cool our homes and maintain our lawns releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Replacing lawns with strategically located trees and other native vegetation can insulate our homes from heat, cold and wind, reducing our heating and cooling needs and thus our carbon dioxide emissions. Unlike lawns, wildlife-friendly native plants don’t need constant maintenance from gas guzzling lawn mowers or fertilizers that require fossil fuels to manufacture. An additional benefit is that plants actually absorb carbon dioxide, helping to further reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. All of this adds up to increased areas available for wildlife habitats, reductions in levels of carbon dioxide that cause global warming, and reduced energy costs. More information about how gardeners can reduce the effects of global warming can be found at www.nwf.org/gardenersguide.

More information about gardening for wildlife and how to have your yard certified is available at www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife or by calling 1-800-822-9919.

Please remember to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

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