Create and certify your own wildlife habitat | Outside

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Gardening for wildlife is fun, inexpensive, and an easy way to have a lasting impact on wildlife.

The Tennessee Wildlife Federation is committed to the conservation of wildlife habitats large and small.

So the TWF has partnered with the National Wildlife Federation to help residents create a wildlife refuge in their own backyard, whether it’s a rolling rural property, a small urban lot, or a a container garden on their balcony.

After all, 90% of land in Tennessee is in private hands. This means that providing the building blocks for our diverse wildlife is up to its residents.

Each Certified Wildlife Habitat provides wildlife with the essentials:

Food — Native plants provide food consumed by a variety of wildlife. Feeders can supplement natural food sources. To certify, your habitat only needs three food sources, such as foliage and pollen from native plants, a bird feeder, and suet.

Water — All animals need water to survive, and some also need it for bathing or breeding. To certify, your habitat needs at least one water source, such as a stream, birdbath, or butterfly puddle area.

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Cover — Wildlife needs places to shelter from bad weather, hide from predators or hunt prey. To certify, your habitat needs a minimum of two places to find shelter, such as dense shrubbery, a brush pile, or a wooded area.

Places to raise young — Wildlife needs resources to reproduce and to protect and feed their young. To certify, your habitat needs at least two places where wildlife can raise their young, such as a nest box, mature trees, or thicket.

Sustainable practices — Maintain your yard or garden in a natural way to ensure the soil, air and water stay healthy and clean. To certify, you must use at least two sustainable practices, such as soil and water conservation, alien species control, and organic maintenance methods.

With the help of Tony Lance, TWF resident naturalist, birder and gardening guru, you can put your commitment to conservation into action.

The application processing fee is $20 and each applicant will receive a certificate to designate their newly certified wildlife habitat. They will also receive exclusive NWF member benefits while supporting statewide conservation.

To get started, visit www.nwf.org/CertifiedWildlife Habitat.

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