Protect Our Species – The Importance of Biodiversity

by Jim Nordgren, Naturalist

Deer, Canada geese, raccoons, and squirrels, starlings and blue jays are everyday sightings in Lewisboro. It seems that nature and biodiversity are all around us. Yet we should be more concerned about nature we don’t see. As houses and roads have replaced farms and forests, the wildlife that needs fields and woods are disappearing. Gone from Lewisboro in just the last thirty years are meadowlark, ruffed grouse and goshawks, birds which can only live in open fields, shrublands, and unbroken forests. The loss of over 50% of wetlands in Lewisboro, has led to the loss and decline of turtles, salamanders, snakes, and frogs. Most alarming–and even harder to notice–is the loss of insects. Remember fireflies? Insect numbers have dropped by 45% in the last 40 years. Human subsistence relies on insects to pollinate plants, and serve as the base of the food chain. Without biodiversity, we’re lost.

But, development doesn’t have to mean wiping out nature. We can plant native trees, in our yards, like oaks and hickories that will provide food for beneficial insects as well as acorns and nuts for birds and other wildlife. Don’t want tall trees by your house? Then plant native flowering dogwoods, serviceberries, redbuds, hawthorns, and crabapples. Instead of non-native forsythia and boxwood plant native blueberry, winterberry, inkberry, chokeberry and sweet pepperbush shrubs for more biodiversity. And if you are tired of cutting your grass, as I am, let sections grow and add asters and milkweed–the two best types of wildflowers for butterflies including the endangered monarch–along with bee balm and black-eyed Susans. Even a mowed lawn can help nature–stop using weed killers and see the violets and clover pop up followed by the bees and butterflies and enjoy the show.