City or suburb dwellers frequently decide to build their dream home in the country. They find a nice spot brimming with wildlife and trees. They look forward to waking up to the sound of birds in the morning and seeing hares and pheasants in the yard.
But before you can say ‘Where’s my chainsaw?’ they’ve cleared out most of the trees and levelled the land. Within a few years, their driveway’s paved and their lawn looks almost as neat and tidy as the one they left behind in the city. (For my role in this, see Confessions of a Woods Cleaner). They may plant some non-native ornamental trees and bushes and regularly weed their new flower beds. Unfortunately, the hares and frogs have hopped out of the neighborhood as has much of the other wildlife.
Does it have to be this way? No, it doesn’t.
Wildlife and woods go together. It’s almost impossible to have one without the other. But woods are messy in their natural state, and most humans like to keep their environment looking neat. However, the diversity of native plant and animal life shrinks astoundingly when land is cleared to make way for clean-cut lawns and pristine flower beds.
For example, many wild birds, such as woodpeckers, thrive in old growth forests. When old trees are cut down, it’s no surprise that the woodpeckers leave the neighborhood. They depend on these old trees for nests and the insect life within them for food.
Vernal pools created by toppled trees and an uneven forest floor collect rainwater and provide a habitat for amphibians and a greater variety of plants. (For more information on attracting amphibians back to your yard, see my post on Why Every Princess Needs a Toad in her Garden).
The United Nations has designated 2010 as the Year of Biodiversity. You can read more about why biodiversity matters here. If you own land, you might consider leaving some of it in its natural state. One simple solution is to allow wild spaces to thrive on the edge of your property. Allowing the growth of wild hedgerows between properties provides privacy and a wind barrier between neighbors while sustaining native species of both plants and animals.
By allowing a wild space to thrive in your yard, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the diversity of life that it will begin to attract.