Create Biodiversity

Biodiversity is vital to ecosystem restoration and resilience.

Biodiversity encompasses the array of life on earth, spanning plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms. Although crucial for the health and function of ecosystems, it is under severe threat from habitat loss, pollution, agriculture and deforestation. Our contemporary way of life is fostering a growing disconnect from the rich biodiversity of the natural world. We have become adept at placing greater importance on the environments within our homes than on the intricate ecosystems that envelop them. Our yards have become perfectly manicured lawns that provide no ecological function. Similarly, most of our Island forests have been cleared for agriculture at some point, which has left our native Wabanaki-Acadian Forest in need of restoration. Without a variety of plant species to support the development and maintenance of functional ecosystems, these manicured lawns and depleted forests fail to sustain wildlife habitats. To increase biodiversity, we must work with nature to create robust ecosystems. By integrating a variety of naturally occurring plant species in an environment, it will in turn provide food, shelter, and nesting sites for a wide range of wildlife. 

Why use native plants?

Native plants are usually very reliable, as they are adapted to the climatic conditions of the area and serve a variety of functions within the ecosystem. They are proven performers - hardy, suitable for a wide variety of habitats, valuable to wildlife, and provide beauty around our homes. Many exotic species cause serious disturbances in our areas, whereas native plants provide year round beauty and function.

Planting rare species of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers can have far reaching ecological impacts, as it increases the potential for seeds to spread to nearby woodlands through birds, small mammals and the wind.


Attracting Pollinators

Pollinators are organisms such as birds, butterflies and insects that facilitate the transfer of pollen from one flowering plant to another, which is crucial to fertilization, seed production, and fruit formation. In Canada, bees are the predominant pollinators. They play integral roles in the pollination of trees and berry crops, and they are essential for agricultural productivity and ecosystem health.  

To entice pollinators, cultivate a diverse array of flowering plants in vibrant hues like blue, purple, yellow and red as pollinators are drawn to color. If possible, ensure a continuous supply of blooms from spring to fall to sustain a steady provision of pollen and nectar throughout the seasons. 

By opting for native flowers and shrubs, you will bolster the health of local ecosystems, as these plants are naturally suited to the soil and climate of their regions, while also serving as vital food and habitat sources to attract and maintain pollinators. 

See some native pollinator plants HERE.

Create Habitat

Don't be afraid to make a mess! Nature is not neat and tidy and your yard doesn't have to be either.

Leaves, brush, or decaying plants can be piled to provide habitat for pollinators, especially overwintering insects. Vines and tall grasses can be used by birds to build nests, and dense shrubs, such as a cluster of wild roses could provide the perfect condition for a bird to lay her eggs. When catering to wildlife, it is important to think about re-creating the kind of conditions found in nature. Introduce native plants in a range of sizes to provide multiple levels of vegetation. This will support habitat development for birds, small animals, and insects that need sheltered areas for rest and protection.  

 Ferns are a beautiful addition to add to a yard and an incredibly valuable species for forest restoration. They provide ground cover and habitat for many of our native animals. Cinnamon fern in particular is an excellent choice for either woodlands or around the home. 

See this resource on how to build a bug hotel by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.


Establish Food Sources

To attract and sustain birds, plant food-producing shrubs such as wild rose, service berry, beaked hazelnut and common elder. Providing food sources for birds is an effective way to retain them around your home, especially in urban areas. Plant a diverse range of native plants to attract more insects, which will in turn provide an additional food source for birds.

See mutli-use native shrubs HERE.


Additional Resources 

For a more in depth read on native trees and shrubs, see this publication.

A comprehensive list of preferred growing conditions for native trees, shrubs, flowers and ferns can be found here.


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