Broward Habitat Connectivity Project – Providing Habitat for Migratory Birds in Urban Broward County, Florida
The National Wildlife Federation is working with NatureScape Broward and the Community Foundation of Broward to provide migratory bird habitat through the Broward Habitat Connectivity Project.
The Broward Habitat Connectivity Project has a three pronged approach – 1) expanding and creating tracts of wooded habitat in areas of the County that lack tree canopy, 2) planting trees and creating wildlife habitat gardens at nearby homes and 3) engaging the broader community through education and outreach.
This effort goes beyond individual habitat restoration projects by methodically creating a patchwork of habitat and green spaces across key parts of the county that lack habitat, including tree canopy. A recent study in Cook County, IL (Chicago Area), examined whether or not the matrix of homes and private properties between and near natural habitat patches such parks, riparian areas and other natural areas plays a role in supporting healthy migratory and resident bird populations. The study found that “streets with bird-friendly yards had almost twice as many species as those without.” The study also indicated that the presence of a variety of native trees provides habitat complexity and is crucial to making these yards more bird-friendly.
Establishing and Expanding Tracts of Wooded Habitat
Through the project, NatureScape Broward use GIS mapping to help identify areas in the county classified as “habitat deserts” because they had the least amount of tree canopy and habitat gardens certified with NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program. Within these areas, NWF and NatureScape Broward selected and partnered with nine parks and schools to establish or expand tracts of wooded habitat:
1) Oriole Elementary School, Lauderdale Lakes
2) Lauderdale Lakes Middle School, Lauderdale Lakes
3) North Lauderdale Elementary Pre-K-8
4) Silver Lakes Middle School, North Lauderdale
5) Tequesta Trace Middle School, Weston
6) Wingate Oaks Center, Fort Lauderdale
7) Larkdale Elementary, Lauderhill
8) Cypress Preserve Park
9) Quiet Waters Park
Dozens of large native trees (valued at nearly $60,000) were planted at the nine sites thanks to support from the Broward County Tree Preservation Program. Students, teachers, parents and other volunteers also helped to maintain and water these trees and plant additional, smaller trees and butterfly gardens at each site, including this major event at Lauderdale Lakes Middle School.
These trees and gardens not only created habitat where there previously was none, but they also provide desperately needed shade for children at the schools, new outdoor learning spaces that are certified as NWF Schoolyard Habitats and will reduce polluted runoff into local waterways.
Planting trees also offers economic and health benefits for these communities. These benefits include cleaner air, cleaner water, increased property values, reduced stress and more. One study showed that hospital patients with a view of trees from their window healed and were released faster than those without.
Planting Trees and Certifying Habitats at Home
For more than 40 years NWF has supported the creation of Certified Wildlife Habitats at home and Broward County is home to more Certified Wildlife Habitat than any other county in the nation. Through the Broward Habitat Connectivity Project, NWF, NatureScape Broward and other partners like Youth Environmental Alliance (YEA!), the Brighter Future Foundation and local municipalities helped giveaway more than 17,000 native tree seedlings to be planted at home – many were given away at the nine targeted schools and parks listed above.
Thanks to continuing support from the Community Foundation of Broward NWF and NatureScape Broward plan to plant an additional 10,000 trees in Broward County and maintain and expand the nine wooded tracts of land working with the local communities. You can contribute to this project by certifying your own yard in Broward County (or wherever you are).