Here's some good news if you don't like raking leaves
People considering, or even procrastinating in, cleaning up their yards this fall now have more reason to leave their rake in the shed.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) says fallen leaves have many benefits. The not-for-profit land conservation group says property owners who haven’t bagged their leaves already should leave them on the ground to support backyard biodiversity. It can also save people time and energy from doing back-breaking yard work.
Dan Kraus, NCC’s senior conservation biologist, says it’s a small act of nature conservation that can make a big difference for native pollinators, birds and other backyard wildlife.
“Layers of leaves are an important habitat for many animals, such as toads, frogs and pollinators. They hibernate under the insulating layer of leaves,” says Kraus. “Many species of insects also need plants stalks or dead branches for hibernation. By completely cleaning up our gardens, we may be removing important wintering habitats for native wildlife that lives in our communities.”
Kraus points out that as leaves break down, they also provide a natural mulch, which helps build and fertilize the soil. He says people can also help migratory and resident birds survive winter by not cleaning up their gardens.
“Fruits and seeds that remain on flowers and shrubs are a crucial food source that sustains many songbirds, such as goldfinches, jays and chickadees,” says Kraus. “Overwintering insects in our yards also provide an important food source for birds. Providing winter habitats for our native birds and insects is just as important as providing food and shelter during the spring and summer.”
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 2.8 million acres (more than 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.
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