Douglas Tallamy proposes an approach to a grassroots conservation effort in his latest book “Nature’s Best Hope.” He shows how every community can become active in stemming the decline of wildlife and improve the well-being of humans.
Wildlife is in decline because the native plants that birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife rely on for survival are fast disappearing. Tallamy sounds a clarion call to plant more native plants that attract insects and other wildlife.
To illustrate his point, for example, he points out that 96% of North American bird species rear their young on insects, primarily caterpillars. Birds must be able to find and feed enough caterpillars in their habitat to enable three to six nestlings to grow from eggs-sized to slightly larger than adults in about two weeks.
Since a typical nestling eats a full meal 30-40 times a day, that means parents raising five chicks must bring food to the nest hundreds of times a day. In fact, Tallamy says, field researchers have observed chickadee parents feeding their young a total of 6,000-9,000 caterpillars during a 16-day nesting period.
Tallamy’s is an easy approach to conservation. He challenges homeowners to transform their yards into native habitat that will provide adequate food to sustain such wildlife. He claims that his private, home-based approach is the most effective way because it is free from the impulses of federal government policies and the whims of politicians. He provides specific suggestions for gardeners to incorporate into their yards. As neighborhoods become corridors of wildlife habitat, as Tallamy puts it, a Homegrown National Park will be created.
Tallamy pens a hopeful and inspiring outlook on the future of our environment if we act now with pages and pages of stunning wildlife photographs. “Nature’s Best Hope” is rooted in history, progressive in its advocacy, and hopeful in its outlook. The author’s vision is a practical, effective blueprint that ordinary people can easily follow for the good of the environment.