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President's View: The Power of One Plant at a Time

Addressing the biodiversity crisis through innovation and partnerships, and helping every person garden for wildlife

  • Collin O’Mara, President & Chief Executive Officer of the National Wildlife Federation
  • Conservation
  • Apr 01, 2020

Collin O’Mara and then Smithsonian Gardens Director Barbara Faust display an NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat sign newly installed last fall at one of 14 sites in the Smithsonian’s new D.C. exhibit called “Habitat.”

LAST FALL, I HAD THE HONOR to attend the opening of the Smithsonian Institution’s new exhibit called “Habitat,” an incredible display of wildlife gardens at 14 different sites in Washington, D.C. The National Wildlife Federation was proud to designate the gardens as Certified Wildlife Habitat® because they incorporate four essential elements of our Garden for Wildlife™ program—food, water, cover and places for wildlife to raise young.

Gardening for wildlife is more important than ever. A recent study in Science reported that North America is home to 3 billion fewer birds than it was just 50 years ago—a 29 percent decline. And that’s just a slice of the biodiversity crisis now threatening one-third of U.S. plant and animal species—and people as well. 

Rather than wringing our hands, we’re taking action through innovation and partnerships. More than 240,000 homes, schools and other sites are now NWF Certified Wildlife Habitats. Nearly 600 mayors have taken our Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, and 235 municipalities are participating in our Community Wildlife Habitats™ program. We’re also partnering with the Taylor Morrison homebuilding company to incorporate wildlife gardening and habitat conservation into their communities. These green-thumbed heroes are making a profound difference for wildlife.

You can, too. To overcome the biodiversity crisis, we want to help every American garden for wildlife. Our goal for 2020 is to certify our 250,000th wildlife habitat. If you haven’t certified your garden, join us by visiting nwf.org/garden. If you have, encourage a neighbor!

We want to make it as easy as possible. To help more communities participate, we’ve just launched our Garden for Wildlife Spanish-language website, Jardín Silvestre. You can identify wildlife-friendly plants in your zip code through our Native Plant Finder (nwf.org/nativeplantfinder), based on the work of our longtime partner, Doug Tallamy (author of Nature’s Best Hope). You’ll find sustainable wildlife-gardening products at shopnwf.org. Our 2020 Habitat Champion, Wild Birds Unlimited, will be spreading the word about wildlife gardening through its stores nationwide. And this spring, our new nature and wildlife field-guide apps will be available through the Apple Store, helping you learn about wildlife in the palm of your hand.  

Each of these efforts is like planting a single seed destined to bear fruit for generations—so help us transform gardens into wildlife havens!


Share Your Views.

Follow Collin O’Mara on Twitter at twitter.com/Collin_OMara. To share your thoughts and opinions, email him at president@nwf.org.


More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

NWF: Our Work »
Blog: Capturing Habitat Garden History in The Smithsonian Gardens »
Read Last Issue's President's View »

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More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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