President’s View: Why Every Garden—and Gardener—Counts

Encouraging partnerships and participation to help pollinators

  • Collin O’Mara, President & Chief Executive Officer of the National Wildlife Federation
  • Conservation
  • Apr 01, 2019

Collin O’Mara visits Denver Botanic Gardens, one source of native plants that are helping the city gain certification as a Community Wildlife Habitat.

GOOD NEWS! The population of monarch butterflies that migrates through the U.S. central flyway to winter in Mexico has increased by 144 percent since last year. Part of that is due to favorable weather conditions across much of its range, but this is also because hundreds of thousands of wildlife champions have planted native milkweed for monarch larvae and installed other flowering plants that provide fuel for monarchs along their journey.

The National Wildlife Federation is proud to be part of this incredible effort. Three years ago, working with then-First Lady Michelle Obama and about 50 conservation partners comprising the National Pollinator Garden Network™, we helped launch the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge™. This program encourages people across the nation to help conserve pollinators by planting native plants and ensuring access to clean water.

Participants in our Garden for Wildlife™ program—which includes Certified Wildlife Habitats®, Community Wildlife Habitats™, Butterfly Heroes™ and Trees for Wildlife™—have contributed more than one-third of the 1,040,000 pollinator gardens created so far, many of them in urban areas. And we’re grateful that 20 of our state affiliates are actively supporting this planting groundswell.

Small or large, pollinator gardens are safe havens, particularly along migration routes, and provide recharging stopovers at small balcony gardens, suburban backyards, small farms, places of worship, roadsides, local and state parks, public gardens and zoos. Large networks of gardens also now bloom at our Schoolyard Habitats® and Eco-Schools USA campuses as well as at colleges participating in our Campus Pollinator Pledge. And more than 450 municipalities have enhanced or created new monarch habitat in their towns and cities after joining in the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. This all adds up to great news for pollinators!

But we still need your help. The western population of monarchs has crashed, and recent reports of global insect declines are dire. In our ongoing effort to address the crisis, we’re working with the garden trades to advance a full-scale shift toward sustainable practices and increase native plant and seed supplies. We also encourage more individuals to install native plants where they live, work and play.

When we save wildlife, we save ourselves—and there’s no better place to start than with pollinators! Happy gardening.

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More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

Our Work: Monarch Butterfly Conservation »
Roots of a Revolution »
Habitat Highways »
Read Last Issue's President's View »

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