Did you know that the plants and natural features along your street, in your yard, and at your favorite playground or park improve your quality of life AND provide habitat for dozens of plants and animals?
The Nature Conservancy and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have launched Habitat Network, a free online citizen science tool that invites people to map their outdoor space, share it with others, and learn more about supporting wildlife habitat and other natural functions in cities and town.
In Puget Sound, 75% of cities and towns are covered in impervious surfaces. These hard surfaces, like driveways, roads, and roofs, prevent rainwater from soaking into the ground. When it rains, water running off impervious surfaces picks up pollutants and debris. The polluted runoff can then end up in our nearest water body.
Habitat Network offers alternate solutions for yards, parks and other urban green spaces to reduce polluted runoff while supporting birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. Habitat Network can be used on properties of all sizes and types – from a shared urban garden in a city park to a large suburban backyard or a school yard.
What can a Habitat Network help you do?
- Manage rainwater
Attract a variety of birds to your home, school, or business
Help protect bees and other pollinators
Compare your map to other network members and get inspired!
“Science shows us that small changes in the way properties are managed can make a huge impact towards improving our environment,” said Megan Whatton, project manager for Habitat Network at The Nature Conservancy. “Creating and conserving nature within cities, towns and neighborhoods are key to global conservation.”
The mapping tool is also a social network, inviting participants to share information and learn from their neighbors. And over time, the self-reported information from citizen scientists using the Habitat Network will provide data the Conservancy can use to understand how much habitat exists in our cities and towns and what role that habitat can play in benefiting wildlife and humans.
In Washington, we’ll be using it to track progress on our City Habitats’ goal of building 20,000 rain gardens in the Puget Sound region.
Help us learn more about habitat in our cities and towns by making map on Habitat Network! Go to www.habitat.network to sign up for an account and get started mapping, sharing, and learning about sustainable practices you can implement in backyards, schoolyards, parks, and corporate campuses.