Calling all Private Land owners! We need your help!
Biodiversity is calling. And it wants its land back…
Everyone knows what happened to our bountiful prairies. They were transformed in the bountiful Ag fields you see today. What can land owners due to help? Plant native!
Why is biodiversity important?
From the MN Dept of Natural Resources, (https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snap/biodiversity.html) they explain that biodiversity has many benefits such as:
Maintaining healthy, stable plant and animal populations
Protecting genetic diversity
Protecting water and soil resources
Filtering pollution and nutrient recycling
Contributing to climate stability and carbon storage
Recovering from catastrophic events
Providing sources for food, medicine and other products
Research, education and monitoring
Recreation, tourism and inspiration
Seems pretty great!
Where do we stand today?
When embarking upon the rich and fertile grasslands and forests of the upper Midwest, the European settlers reaped the many benefits of land that could be turned into farming. Especially, from the grasslands.
Only 5% of grassland remains today (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/grassland-threats/).
Agricultural farms contributed $136.7 billion dollars to the US GDP. (https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/ag-and-food-sectors-and-the-economy/).
“1.3 million acres of grassland disappeared between 2006 and 2011 in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota,” (http://science.time.com/2013/02/20/as-crop-prices-rise-farmland-expands-and-the-environment-suffers/).
As farming in the Mid-West continues to keep up with demand for their crops across the world, we need to think outside the box for ways to promote biodiversity locally. We can create pockets of habitat that together, string together a highly functional biome.
How do we do this as private land owners?
When one thinks back on what used to be, and how much decimation the humans have caused the environment, it invokes the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Adopt the pace of nature: Her secret is patience.” No, that’s not it. That’s not the quote I was looking for. Maybe more of a David Attenborough quote, “It is that range of biodiversity that we must care for – the whole thing – rather than just one or two stars.”
That’s a little better. Let’s keep going…
What percentage of private land are we looking at?
As you can see, developed land only accumulates to 6%. Not a ton, but every little bit helps! Kyle Brazil of the Nat’l Bobwhite Conservation says, “Small changes in native vegetation can cause a disproportionate positive return on wildlife, so every little bit helps,” https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/home/?cid=STELPRDB1166100.
One area to keep an eye on as a private landowner, is development. Are you apart of a housing association? Maybe a member of your city council?
When new development is up for discussion, remember to keep conservation practices in mind.
As referenced in Jeffrey Milder’s article, “…conventional development typically displaces sensitive native species, introduces and promotes the spread of nonnative species, degrades water resources, fragments habitat networks, and diminishes the land’s cultural and aesthetic value,” (Radeloff et al. 2005b).
If developing is going to happen, ensure native plantings are also included.
If this hasn’t motivated you enough to get out there and promote native planting to your neighbors, stay tuned for more articles on Habitat Enhancement. We’re bound to get you thinking native one of these days.
For more information on planting native, please visit this article from the MN Pollution Control Agency, “Planting natives for beauty & biodiversity”: