How to Turn Your Backyard Into a Certified Wildlife Habitat

Climate change continues to alter the planet and make it less suitable for sustaining life. Animals have felt this effect more than anyone else. As people look for new locations to build safer, more weather-proof cities, wildlife species have retreated to the minimal spaces still left intact.

Humans can do their part to mitigate the current mass extinction of animals and insects. Before you visit a zoo, consider transforming your property into a better home for creatures in need.

This is how you can turn your backyard into a certified wildlife habitat. Your backyard may currently have features that hurt the environment or prevent animals from roaming through or living safely. Use these tips and you’ll join the effort to save numerous species the food chain depends upon.



1. Ensure a Food Supply

Nothing can live without a steady supply of food. You’ll have to think of a way to ensure constant food that local wildlife can eat.

First, you should research where you live. Read about which animals thrive in your neighbourhood or migrate through your town. Think about whether your area interacts with creatures like:

  • Birds
  • Butterflies
  • Deer
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels

Even some animals like bears, which don’t necessarily pose a safety threat, can find refuge in your homemade habitat if they first find access to food.



2. Provide Shelter

Bird Box
Image by Sabine Löwer from Pixabay

Animals want to feel safe, both for themselves and their potential offspring. Habitats must always include shelter for these purposes. You might hang a few birdhouses and bat houses on your trees or nestle a lizard shelter from a pet store next to your garden.

Don’t worry about needing a big budget for this step. It’s great to build or buy extra shelters, but animals will also appreciate leafy bushes and trees.



3. Supply Fresh Water

Even if you know there’s a pond back through the woods beyond your yard, supplying fresh water on your property will make it a verified habitat.

Leave a bowl of water out if you spot rabbit holes in your grass. If birds visit your yard more often, build a creative birdbath that splashes your personality across your yard. Even digging a small pond and keeping up with it gives animals a safe place to rest and hydrate.



4. Practice Water and Soil Conservation

Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay

Soil and water conservation are crucial components of any thriving habitat. Soil erosion occurs when the topsoil washes away with the nutrients and microorganisms plants and wildlife need. After heavy rainstorms, practice soil conservation methods like adding earthworms to your yard. They’ll aerate the packed soil and excrete nutrients around plant root systems that hold your yard together.

Water conservation is also critical. Recent research found that 700 million people lack freshwater access because the global population depletes it so quickly. After setting up a water supply system for local wildlife, minimise water waste by turning off your sprinkler system or reducing your indoor use. Everyone benefits from conserving natural resources, especially animals who struggle to find safe shelter and water in the wild.



5. Create Nesting Spaces

Long-term habitats always have nesting spaces. These are private, closed-off places to lay eggs or raise young.

Birds prefer birdhouses to build their nests. Squirrels need pine boxes with singular entrances. Rabbits will nest in open grassy areas or under a log, as long as they can dig five to seven inches below ground.

The wildlife in your area will determine which nesting places you should set up in your yard. Research a bit further to determine exactly what your local animals prefer and how you can recreate those environments.



6. Research Organic Practices

The long-term care of your habitat shouldn’t involve any harmful pesticides or other chemical treatments. The ingredients create local pollution by washing out of your yard and into nearby waterways. Even if they don’t reach water systems, animals develop deadly health conditions from walking through or rolling in the treated areas.

Find organic alternatives to any chemical-based yard products you currently use. Your property will support wildlife better without the harsh, non-biodegradable ingredients.



Submit an Application

After you’ve used these tips to turn your backyard into a wildlife habitat, submit a formal application with the National Wildlife Federation. This will include photo submissions of your yard’s natural spaces. Once they approve your habitat, you’ll become the official neighbourhood expert on caring for local animals!

Emily Folk

Emily is a sustainability writer and avid gardener. You can read more of her work on her site, Conservation Folks, where she writes about helping tomorrow’s planet today.

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