With the help of residents, schools and other local organizations, Los Angeles became the nation’s largest city to be certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a biodiversity haven, the Bureau of Public Works announced Tuesday.
The certification comes after collective action by Los Angeles residents who registered 1,078 residential yards, 34 schools and 140 common areas, which cumulatively allowed all of L.A. to become certified as a biodiversity haven.
“This certification celebrates the ongoing work of L.A. Sanitation and our city departments, our ecologist in planning, our city forest officer, our Expert Biodiversity Panel, and all our local environmental organizations who labor every day to redirect the trajectory of Los Angeles from a city of concrete and conspicuous consumption toward a model urban city successfully co-existing and inextricably linked to the environmental health of its wildlife and natural areas,” said Councilman Paul Koretz, who authored the city’s biodiversity and wildlife corridor programs.
The city encouraged residents, schools and other organizations to garden their properties with wildlife in mind by using native plants and sustainable practices, as well as providing cover and food to wildlife and reducing or eliminating the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
“Creating a network of smaller habitats in yards, schools, and gardens creates stepping stones to connect the larger habitats in our city’s vast network of open space and natural areas,” said Michelle Barton, biodiversity lead for LA Sanitation and Environment.
“We encourage anyone who has created habitat on their property to engage with biodiversity in the city by observing and appreciating the native birds, butterflies, moths, and reptiles that live, forage, raise their young in these spaces,” Barton said.
The recognition comes after the city released the 2020 Los Angeles Biodiversity Report, which included the number of certified biodiversity-friendly areas in the city.
“There are so many benefits to becoming certified by National Wildlife Federation as a Community Wildlife Habitat City, including preserving wildlife, reducing harmful runoff, improving the urban tree canopy, beautifying the city and allowing our biodiversity program to get the national recognition it deserves,” said Mas Dojiri, assistant general manager of LA Sanitation and Environment.
“Perhaps most importantly, it engages residents to improve the urban ecosystem and enhance biodiversity. I am very proud of the work done by our team, as well as the people of Los Angeles, which enabled us to achieve this milestone,” Dojiri added.
Los Angeles is home to a range of wildlife, including coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and hundreds of bird species, noted Patrick Fitzgerald, senior director of community wildlife at the National Wildlife Federation.
“Los Angeles’s success in getting certified under National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat program shows how communities can enhance environmental sustainability, protect biodiversity and support environmental equity and justice,” he said.
People who want to certify their garden as a Garden for Wildlife can visit nwf.org/certify.
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