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1. to discover and identify the plants and animals living among us
2. to learn their habits and survival requirements
3. to implement landscaping and other wildlife accommodations, such as nest boxes, feeders, brush piles, rock piles, tree snags, ponds and other water features.
Meetings will alternate between trips to public greenspace and private homes. We'll search for plants and animals and learn how they function in our ecosystem. We'll visit meetup members' homes and neighborhoods to evaluate their habitat potential and discuss improvements.
A knowledge of plants--their identification, nutritional value to wildlife, and cultural requirements--will serve a major role in our endeavor, since they are an ecosystem's foundation. All animals require plants--specific plants--for their survival. Even carnivores rely on plants to nourish their prey. We'll learn and share many techniques for creating habitat, but landscaping is key.
This meetup is chiefly intended for nature lovers who are upset to see wilderness vanish and want to become actively involved in making a difference--starting with their own backyard (and frontyard). Many of you have enough greenspace around your homes to make an impact. There are also many who haven't got much more than a couple windowboxes or a single tree beside your apartment. Yet, you shouldn't feel limited to your immediate surroundings; there are opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood's public parks/public spaces, or chances to guerrilla garden in vacant lots.
Many of you are interested in ethnobotany--medicinal plants, foraging wild edibles, etc. While that hasn't been the central focus of this group, it is certainly a welcome supplement, and engages people in their natural world in a way that helps them best identify with the experience of wildlife: gathering and using plants for survival. We neglect our environment when we fail to recognize this common interest and the value it provides.
All suburban properties are landscaped to some extent; owners recognize the improved appearance and property value. Yet, the plants chosen are too often non-native, invasive, produce sterile blossoms, inedible fruit, often situated in monocultures, and are a limited selection of tedious repetition (on average, the same 40 plants--in various arrangements--comprise 90% of our suburban landscapes). Some of the problem lies with limited availability from nurseries and garden centers; the rest with uninformed consumers. So let's get informed. With a little insight, plants offering beauty and greater wildlife benefit can be substituted.
We love dogs, but many of our members prefer not to walk with them during our nature hikes--they can sometimes be a distraction when we are trying to observe wildlife.