The National Wildlife Federation

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Sacred Grounds™

Planting rain garden at Baltimore church, Carolyn MillardAcross a beautiful mosaic of diverse beliefs, denominations, and geographies, many places of worship share a deep spiritual commitment to steward the Earth in responsible and life-sustaining ways.   

These groups are leading the way to create wildlife habitat and educate others in environmental practices. As respected community leaders, and also often large property owners, they are uniquely positioned to inspire their congregation members, neighboring congregations, and the greater interfaith community to advance stewardship practices. In fact, close to 800 places of worship have taken the first step in creating rain gardens, pollinator gardens, meditation spaces, healing gardens, and outdoor education spaces as Certified Wildlife Habitat® spaces. These direct habitat efforts have replaced acres of turf grass and paved area with native plants, implemented storm water runoff strategies, and planted trees to increase carbon sequestration and improve air quality.

Sacred Grounds™ congregations go a step further, and not only sustain National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat® spaces on their communal property, but also engage their congregants in creating habitat at home while advancing faith stewardship practices community-wide.

Benefits to Congregations

Places of worship have found tangible benefits to becoming a Sacred Grounds™ congregation, such as:

  • Damage Reduction: Stormwater mitigation and grounds stewardship practices can provide cost savings by reducing previous flooding and property damage.
  • Rebates, Incentives, and Reduced Fees: Some local municipalities may offer these types of benefits for rain gardens, permeable pavement, and stormwater mitigation.
  • Long-Term Maintenance Plan: By committing to a maintenance plan, congregations can incorporate landscape habitat sustainability with energy savings and water conservation practices.
  • Affordable Grounds Beautification: Save time and money replanting each year with established rain gardens and perennial plants for wildlife habitat.
  • Enhanced Human Health: Cleaner, greener outdoor gathering and worship spaces contribute to overall enhancement of human health and to the greater community’s water quality.
  • Systematic Approach to Water Challenges: The program provides an avenue for addressing an urban community’s water challenges in a way that emphasizes treating all water as valuable, and protecting and managing it holistically.
  • Diverse Nature-Based Solutions: Through a long-term connection of nature-based solutions, people and nature thrive together to benefit diverse geographies.

The Sacred Grounds™ program creates a unique space for praise and celebration of nature’s wonders and empowers congregations of all faiths to connect to the Earth by gardening for wildlife and studying the teachings and texts of their faiths. As a result, people, the planet, and spiritual foundations flourish.

Sacred Grounds™ Program Elements

Many Sacred Grounds™ faith communities begin the process with the creation of a Certified Wildlife Habitat®, which will improve the health of wildlife and human communities at their place of worship and in their local community. These habitats can be a small garden space, rain garden, or larger property area that incorporates native plants to provide birds, butterflies, and other wildlife with food, water, cover, and places to raise their young. Key co-benefits of creating wildlife habitat and “greening” congregation grounds include many of the activities and benefits listed above. To become designated as a Sacred Grounds™ congregation, each faith community completes specific actions to achieve the requirements below. These can happen in any sequence.

  • Create and sustain a Certified Wildlife Habitat® at place of worship
  • Leadership integrates faith and environmental conservation into religious activities
  • Educate and engage the individual congregation members to participate at home and in group activities
  • Connect and advocate for these practices in the greater community

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Sacred Grounds™ congregation, please contact sacredgrounds@nwf.org.