The habitat restoration work that The Long Island Conservancy performs is project-based. Drawing from our extensive expertise, we work with local communities to identify places where we can for instance turn a sump into a bird sanctuary, or clear out acres of porcelainberry, wisteria, mugwort, oriental bittersweet, Japanese multiflora rose and English Ivy, and return to those places the flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees that are native to that place. Check out our Dirty Dozen Campaign, where we cite the worst invasive plants on Long Island.
Between the relentless loss of habitat and the explosive spread of invasive plants, we Long Islanders are losing a war we didn’t even know we are fighting. It is crucial that Long Islanders in every community take a stand against invasive plants, and engage in habitat restoration, starting in their own yards, or we will watch our ecosystems continue their collapse, and then what kind of future would await us?
As we speak with various town, village and county officials, we find that the vast majority are unaware of the invasive plant problem, and don’t understand the vital importance of habitat restoration for Long Island’s future and the future of its wildlife. Everyone wants to be seen as an environmentalist. Too many are ‘plant-blind.’ They mistake green for Nature. Too often, a municipality will offer up, say, recommended street trees, with the vast majority non-native and even invasive.
If we are to engage in habitat restoration on Long Island, we at least have to begin by knowing what belongs here and what doesn’t. If you don’t have a plant identifier app on your phone like PictureThis!, get it. Learn what is growing in your yard. Learn whether it belongs in your yard or not. Learn how to take care of the ones that belong, and how to remove those are are destroying your yard and local habitat.
We can blame suburbia, lawn culture, or more generally our growing alienation from Nature for this. A hundred years ago, people would have little trouble naming the plants and animals and insects around them. Now our lives are increasingly artificial, our yards a clumsy amalgam of whatever is being shipped here. The landscaping industry, with penchant for growing and planting non-native plants could be how we can start to replant Long Island native.
Non-natives often require extra water, fertilizer, and chemical treatments just to survive in our sandy soil and during our droughts. That is all done at great expense. At the same time they crowd out what should be there — our native plants. Our yards have become lifeless silent moonscapes, lawns peppered with exotic ornamentals, trees and bushes from Japan, China, and elsewhere, the barren result of a globalization of gardening that is destroying any sense of place, and any place for our native wildlife to live. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t, if we want a livable future here.
Working with local stewards and civic groups, The Long Island Conservancy actively seeks habitat restoration projects that will have impact. With every project we support and endorse, we offer designs, costs, and timelines. What we are finding is that virtually every park has its local champions, and that local stewardship is how our work in habitat restoration is taking root. So what project would you recommend we undertake? Let us plant with intention, with the larger goal of habitat restoration!
Contact us and let us know where we should be planting!