As a follow-up to Earth Day, the Western New York Land Conservancy is bringing award-winning author Doug Tallamy to the UB Center for the Arts for a presentation on the critical importance of native plants for the ecology and vibrancy of this region.
Tallamy's research and his book, "Bringing Nature Home," have sparked a national conversation about the importance of using native plants in gardens and landscapes to reverse the loss of wildlife and to make communities healthier. After decades of intense urban sprawl, natural places are shrinking and becoming more fragmented. The use of native plants in yards and gardens should make a difference.
Sally Cunningham, certified nursery and landscape professional, author, and horticulturist credited Tallamy for clarifying why native plants are so important.
"They meet the needs of native insects, which, in turn, serve a complicated food web. Without the insects all ecology dissolves. Native insects require the plants with which they co-evolved," she said.
The plight of the monarch butterfly is making headlines all over the nation. To a large degree, their decline is tied to the loss of native plants. Monarch caterpillars are dependent upon a single source of nutrition - native milkweeds - and their populations have suffered dramatic losses as milkweed fields disappear. The Land Conservancy said people can fix this in their our own backyards by planting many types of native milkweeds, which do, in fact, have gorgeous red, pink, orange, and white flowers.
"We have eliminated so much nature so fast, that most people don't realize how little is left," Tallamy said. "Particularly in the east, we have devastated our natural areas to the point where, if we are going to have functioning ecosystems, if we're going to have biodiversity, we need to start sharing the property that we've taken."
Historically, many have landscaped to add beauty to their yards, without much thought to the role plants provide in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Native landscapes support food webs, sustain pollinators, sequester carbon, filter water and produce oxygen.
Executive Director Nancy Smith said "The Land Conservancy protects 6,000 acres of remarkable places across Western New York. But we can't protect everything. If every gardener and landowner, and every business, school and town park included even a small number of native plants, it would make an enormous difference to our pollinators and wildlife."
Tallamy will present "Rebuilding Nature's Relationships at Home" on Tuesday, May 10, at the UB Center for the Arts. The 7 p.m. event begins with a 6 p.m. reception and is open to the public. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the UB box office or online at www.Tickets.com.
The Western New York Land Conservancy is a regional, not-for-profit land trust that permanently protects land with significant conservation value in Western New York for future generations. The Land Conservancy envisions a future in which open spaces, working lands, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty are cherished and protected as part of the landscape and character of Western New York.
The Land Conservancy is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and is one of 1,700 land trusts nationwide, including 90 in New York.
Land trusts have protected 40 million acres over the past 20 years.
For more information on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, or the mission of the Western New York Land Conservancy, call 716-687-1225 or visit www.wnylc.org.