A Native Plant Challenge

On Friday, March 27, I was a guest on The Leonard Lopate at Large show on 99.5FM WBAI in NYC along with Dr. Douglas Tallamy, a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware.

The conversation was centered on Dr. Tallamy’s newly released book Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard published by Timber Press. This book is a sequel to his previous book Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife With Native Plants.

On this show, Dr. Tallamy went into the science behind why ecologically friendly land management practices are so important in today’s outdoor environment. He begins his new book with some very interesting natural history. In 1903, then President Theodore Roosevelt was standing on the rim of The Grand Canyon as mining was on the verge of gouging the canyon into pieces. He said the five words that would bring The National Parks System another pristine location, “Leave it as it is!”

Dr. Tallamy talked about how ecosystems around the planet are on the verge of shutting down. We have this notion that as we grow our population, the planet must be growing with us. This is not the case and as Dr. Tallamy would say, “The world is no longer flat.” We still have the ability to keep our water clean and drinkable, our climate cooler and our landscapes native.

Dr. Tallamy talked in depth on why locally grown native plants are so important to local ecosystems. Native plants sustain local wildlife, where non-native plants, including invasive species from Asia and Europe do not. These non-native plants have little or no ecological significance and can play a large role in ecosystem collapse.

What I suggest, since we are all home looking for the next great thing to do, is get out in the yard and become part of the solution. Survey your land and landscape and figure out how we can cut down the size of the lawn, create more meadow, and plant more native trees, shrubs, perennials, ground covers and vines. It’s time to bring back the native landscape that was in place just decades ago.

In Dr. Tallamy’s book, he writes about creating a Homegrown National Park with native plants by connecting each yard, in every neighborhood, in every town, in every county, in each state across the country with a living landscape. This concept can be implemented and accomplished but it needs everyone’s support and help. In the end, we will have created as Dr. Tallamy states, our Homegrown National Park in which we can all take credit for a job well done.

This can be fun and easier than you think.

Let’s give it a try. We can do this!