Keeping healthy habitats in your backyard
In the fall, a lot of our time is spent on habitat restoration projects with our Wildlife Habitat Stewards in order to provide better habitat for our local wildlife. Habitats are homes for wildlife and it is important that our native species have access to enough high-quality habitat to suit their needs. Each of our projects is different based on the habitat type, size of the area, level of disturbance, and end goal for the site.
So far this year, we have planted along Eneas Creek in Summerland to improve habitat for Western Screech-owls, and in Vernon to create habitat and a movement corridor for several wildlife species including American Badgers.
Local wildlife are constantly losing homes to urbanization, agricultural development, and habitat fragmentation in the valley, so it is important to try to restore the habitat that has been lost to try and bring some of it back. Here are a few simple things you can do to ensure your habitat is the best it can be for wildlife:
1) Leave dead trees standing up as long as they are not a safety risk. These trees are critical for cavity-nesting birds, who cannot just make a nest in a regular tree and need a dead tree in which to carve out a hole.
2) Create a pollinator garden
This doesn't mean just planting a bunch of extra flowers! The majority of pollinators just live like regular insects and do not use hives like honeybees. They require dead wood, leaf litter, exposed soil, hollow grasses, a variety of flowers, and many other things that manicured garden beds just cannot. As an added bonus, healthy pollinator populations also provide food for birds!
3) Use native plants in your yard. Native plant species are already drought tolerant, low maintenance, cold hardy, heat hardy and generally just better adapted to our seasons than other plants.
They require very little water, which is important as our summers get hotter and drier. Using native plants also reduces the risk of planting an invasive species or even worse, introducing a new invasive species into our area.
4) Avoid 'tidying.
Having bushy shrubs or large branches lying around on the ground are important to create structure in the habitat for birds to amphibians to small mammals. Tidying and 'manicuring' gardens and yards creates a too-sterile landscape in which wildlife have no place to feed, shelter, nest, or sleep.