What You Can Do

Turn off your car, tractor, ATV or snow machine, when you are not driving them but are doing something else to save putting more carbon into the air.

Leaf Litter: Let It Lie on the ground... It fertilizes your yard, offers snug spots for caterpillars to spend the winter, and helps fill your yard with life next spring.

Leaf litter can be a critical element of soil. Leaving leaves to decompose replenishes soil by releasing carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other compounds. The decomposition process can also foster interesting forms of life, like fungus, which often thrive in decaying leaf material.

Leaf litter also helps to retain moisture and regulate temperature. This is important in cold regions where organisms live under leaf litter during the winter, and where plants can receive some protection from extreme temperatures under a blanket of leaves. Leaves provide homes to a variety of living things from the smallest bacteria to the largest macroinvertebrates. Caterpillars seal themselves inside a leaf. They will remain inside until the spring. Several invertebrates, like butterflies, will lay their eggs in leaf litter, using it as a nursery. Raking up these leaves and sending them away in the Fall has the unintended consequence of removing some of next year’s garden butterflies and moths.

As a home for many different invertebrates, leaf litter is an important foraging space for birds, small mammals and carnivorous insects. Pulling back the leaves on a forest floor will reveal a world of interactions. These habitats are so critical some bird species’ declines have been linked with decreased invertebrates on the forest floor as in the case of the Wood Thrush, a migratory song bird that forages for insects and snails on the forest floor in the Northeast.

Source:

1) Leaf “Litter”, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Let your lawn grow naturally and do not interfere!

Minimize Fertilizer use! The runoff of fertilizers results in the explosive growth of algae which causes disruptive changes to the biological equilibrium [including fish kills]. This is true both for inland waters (ditches, river, lakes) and coastal waters. This impacts quality of drinking water. Enrichment of surface waters from fertilizer run off results:

  • Shift in habitat characteristics due to change in assemblage of aquatic plants
  • Replacement of desirable fish (e.g. salmonids in western countries) by less desirable species
  • Production of toxins by certain alga deoxygenation of water, especially after collapse of algal blooms, usually resulting in fish kills
  • Infilling and clogging of irrigation canals with aquatic weeds
  • Economic loss due to change in fish species, fish kills, etc.

Source:

1) Fertilizers As Water Pollutants, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Minimize herbicide use. Herbicides are now found in streams and drinking water and can be a health hazard. They disrupt food webs that provide seed, cover, and nest material for birds. Changes in the plant community affect arthropod abundance that are beneficial to man, including beneficial arthropods that prey on insect pests and weed seeds. Herbicide runoff to streams alters aquatic life that impacts wading birds, shorebirds, and fish eating raptors. And herbicides can contribute to a change in the microclimate of a habitat.

For more information, see the Pesticides section of this website.

The Number One Thing You Can Do: Reduce consumption of animal products. This can go a long way toward conserving endangered habitat around the world and preserving biodiversity. Ecosystems are destroyed overwhelmingly to feed livestock. Livestock production uses roughly three-fourths of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of earth.

Source:

1) The Number One Thing Each of Us Can Do To Protect Biodiversity, Ensia.com

Stop Bird Death From Window Collisions: Up to 988 million birds are killed each year in the U.S. when they hit windows. Now, everyone can take action to reduce this threat. Here are 18 proven products for existing and new windows, for every size and shape imaginable, and for every budget that prevent bird collisions. Visit: http://abcbirds.org/get-involved/bird-smart-glass/

Engage in organic gardening and farming. See the Soils section for discussion of the importance of this in mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration.