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Sacred Grounds

Faith-Based Certified Wildlife Habitat Program

Sacred Grounds™ is a program that gives people of all faiths the opportunity to connect to nature at their place of worship and to learn about the different ways their faith encourages them to be good environmental stewards. Whether your passion be listening to birds sing, watching butterflies dance from flower to flower, or walking through the forest knowing that nature is blooming, Sacred Grounds™ empowers congregations of all faiths to connect to the Earth by gardening for wildlife and studying the teachings and texts of their faiths. With Sacred Grounds™, people, the planet, and spiritual foundations all flourish.

Certified Habitats for Congregations

For more than 40 years, the National Wildlife Federation has been leading the way to engage homeowners, businesses, schools, and other settings to create wildlife-friendly yards and landscapes through our Certified Wildlife Habitat® program. With over 170,000 of these properties certified to date, places of worship now have the opportunity to take part in a specialized program to conserve wildlife and engage their associated congregation. Congregations offer great opportunities to support wildlife habitat due to their often large acreage, community leadership role, and provision of spiritual guidance. By combining spiritual empowerment with wildlife conservation, both people and wildlife thrive.

Sacred Grounds™ Program Elements

Like traditional Certified Wildlife Habitats®, Sacred Grounds™ must incorporate the four elements of habitat (food, water, cover, and places for wildlife to raise their young) and be registered with the National Wildlife Federation through our online certification form. Sacred grounds, however, requires additional elements to engage congregational members to increase their stewardship for wildlife and the environment. These elements include:

  1. Connecting environmental stewardship to faith through service, teaching, or prayer
  2. Educating and inspiring the congregation to get involved within the community
  3. Reaching beyond the congregation to encourage communal environmental stewardship regardless of faith

Sacred Grounds™ gives congregations an opportunity to receive recognition for undertaking landscaping projects that attract wildlife and reduce stormwater runoff along with elements uniquely relevant to the grounds owned by religious institutions.

Faith Elements and Engagement

  • Congregation leader speaks on habitat connection to faith doctrine to full congregation
  • Use area as a sacred space (worship service, religious school classes, etc.)
  • Host a planting day/workshop for congregation members
  • Host a garden tour for communities and different congregations

Four Elements of Habitat

  • Food sources (seeds, nuts, berries, fruits, nectar, supplemental feeders)
  • Water sources (bird bath, water garden, lakefront, stream, spring)
  • Cover (wooded area, dense shrubs, ground cover, meadow/prairie, burrows)
  • Places to raise young (mature trees, dead trees, meadow/prairie, caves, nesting boxes)

Sustainable Grounds Practices

  • Water practices (rain garden, bioswale, permeable paving, green roof, mulching)
  • Controlling exotic species (removing invasive plants)
  • Organic practices (reduce or eliminate chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers)
  • Habitat maintenance (create ongoing maintenance plan for upkeep, monitor wildlife over time)