Fieldnotes is WWF-Canada’s newsletter about our science-based work finding solutions in the face of an unprecedented crisis in climate change and wildlife loss. If Fieldnotes was forwarded to you, please click here to subscribe to future issues.
Restoring habitats one native plant at a time
We’ve been talking a lot about biodiversity loss in Fieldnotes — about how human activities across Canada are destroying habitats and causing dramatic declines in caribou, bees and other species. For many of us, it’s hard to know how to engage with such a big crisis on our own.
But programs like In the Zone prove that there are things that you can do right from home. Things that will help declining species discover new habitat where they can find food, mate and raise their young. These things start in your garden, including container gardens and community gardens. Through the simple act of choosing native plants for your front yard, back yard or balcony, you can help bring back local wildlife.
So, what are native plants anyway? They’re plants that naturally grow in a particular geographic region. Since they’re suited to the local conditions — think temperature, sunlight, soil, precipitation — they flourish without much maintenance. It also means they provide food and shelter for local insects and birds, bolstering the entire ecosystem, which then becomes the foundation of a healthy food web. And when we work together to create a whole community of native plant gardens, we create habitat networks for wildlife so they can move around freely.
Native plants also help communities adapt to some of the effects of climate change — their deeper root systems provide resiliency and absorb more water from flooding. Plus, if they’re taken care of properly, they’ll grow every year, minimizing the amount of work you have to do — and putting some of that hard-earned gardening money back in your pocket.
Finally, native plants are beautiful. People tend to think of exotic species as vibrant and colourful, but species like wild columbine or harebell will make your garden stand out. No matter where you live in Canada, there are plants native to your region. And now that we’re heading into what is (hopefully) really spring, it’s the perfect time to start planning out your own garden.
Nature to the rescue
The UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration begins next year, and restoring nature is a solution that addresses both biodiversity loss and climate change.
In response to the growing urgency around these issues, WWF-Canada and Carolinian Canada co-hosted Nature Works! Restoring our Future by 2030 on March 11. This third annual forum of our Shifting the Paradigm series featured experts from diverse fields, communities and cultures — scientists, Indigenous leaders, activists, academics, government officials and corporate reps — exploring nature-based solutions to these dual crises.
Forum participants discussed strategies to speed up and scale up these efforts, ranging from natural infrastructure, native habitats and carbon sink restoration to growing the green economy, urban and rural collaboration and, of course, the importance of citizen action.
Q&A: Building a mosaic of native gardens
Pete Ewins — Lead Specialist, Species Conservation
Pete joined WWF-Canada in 1996 and led WWF’s Arctic conservation work from 2000–2006. As Lead Specialist, Pete’s work centres on flagship species conservation in globally significant regions, accelerating the recovery of Species at Risk, and increasing the connection of urban citizens to wildlife species. He is very active with the Nature Connected Communities program, inspiring native plant habitat restoration in gardens and other private and public spaces within urban communities.
“With the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change, grassroots practical habitat restoration initiatives like In the Zone are what people want to do in order to help in very practical and meaningful ways that all add up to restoring their children’s future!”