For more than 40 years, the National Wildlife Federation, through its Garden for Wildlife Program, has engaged homeowners, businesses, schools, universities, places of worship, parks, community-based organizations and others in creating and certifying wildlife-friendly landscapes on their properties.
The NWF Community Wildlife Habitat program, started in 1997, empowers communities to take action for wildlife in their own communities. The program provides community leaders with a program framework to restore wildlife habitat and educate and engage community members while working to attain NWF’s esteemed certification as a wildlife-friendly community. Communities of all sizes are encouraged to apply. NWF works with large cities and counties as well as small towns and neighborhoods. We are currently working with approximately 200 communities nationwide. You may also download the NWF Community Wildlife Habitat Fact Sheet.
To achieve certification through the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat program, you must meet two sets of goals.
NWF communities also do outreach to educate residents about sustainable gardening practices such as reducing or eliminating chemical fertilizers and pesticides, conserving water, planting native plants and trees, composting and more. The community hosts workshops about gardening for wildlife and holds community events such as stream clean-ups and invasive species removal to make the community healthier for people and wildlife alike. Local citizens become knowledgeable advocates for wildlife and sustainability.
First, NWF Community Wildlife Habitats earn “Certification Points” by providing habitat for wildlife throughout the community—where people live, work, learn, play and worship. Communities do this by certifying individual properties like backyards, school grounds, public parks, community gardens, and places of worship and businesses, as NWF Certified Wildlife Habitats®. Each individual certified site within the community provides the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young and integrates sustainable gardening practices such as using rain barrels, reducing water usage, removing invasive plants, using native plants and eliminating pesticides. These habitats help to create urban oases for wildlife and new corridors of habitat that enable wildlife to thrive.
Second, NWF Community Wildlife Habitats earn “Education and Outreach” points through a flexible checklist of options that engage the community in the certification process. Communities educate residents about sustainable gardening practices such as reducing or eliminating chemical fertilizers and pesticides, conserving water, planting native plants and trees, composting and more. The community hosts workshops about gardening for wildlife and holds community events such as stream clean-ups and invasive species removal to make the community healthier for people and wildlife alike. Local citizens become knowledgeable advocates for wildlife and sustainability
The NWF Community Wildlife Habitat program allows communities to customize or emphasize local priorities. Some communities focus on water conservation measures by installing rain gardens to prevent storm water runoff. Others focus on creating wildlife corridors by connecting parks and riparian areas to new Certified Wildlife Habitats in the same area. Still others use the program to engage citizens around the importance of using drought-resistant native plants or reducing the use of pesticides and chemicals. Successful community efforts engage many local partners in their work.
When you join the NWF Community Wildlife Habitat program, you join a network of like-minded communities that are working to meet similar goals around sustainability, clean water, restoring and enhancing wildlife habitat (especially birds and pollinators) and more. NWF staff support Community Wildlife Habitat teams to meet their goals in many ways, including:
Every year certified NWF Community Wildlife Habitat teams continue to educate and engage their community and certify habitats by meeting modest annual re-certification goals.
If you still have more questions, please read our frequently asked questions document.