Landscaping Project Guidance

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HABITATLandscaping Project Guidance

IntroductionBroadly defined, landscaping consists of vegetation planted in a formal arrangement, with the intent of makingthe site more visually appealing to employees, visitors and passersby.Landscaping is generally considered part of the built environment, rather than a “natural” habitat. However,when designed with biodiversity in mind, it can make valuable contributions to conservation efforts.Landscaping designed to include a diversity of native plant species can benefit a variety of wildlife includingbutterflies, native bees and songbirds. Landscaping can also reduce irrigation and fertilizer needs, and benefitwater and air quality.From an educational standpoint, landscaping provides many opportunities for learning. Learning can occur boththrough planning and choosing the best plants and techniques for the specific location, and through employeeand community visits to the landscaped areas.For the purposes of WHC Conservation Certification, landscaping projects should provide a direct benefitto biodiversity. This may involvethe use of native plant species that will benefit a target species or group ofspecies in the area. Please note: projects that provide only indirect benefits to biodiversity will not be considered forConservation Certification.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 2

Building Your ProgramProjects are divided into four categories: Habitat, Species Management, Education and Awareness andOther Options. You can build a program with more than one of each category but you must associate yourprogram with at least one habitat. This Landscaping Project Guidance is in the Habitat category. You will beable to associate your landscaping project with Education and Awareness projects, as well as with SpeciesManagement projects like those focused on pollinators and birds.Habitat – Projects that focus on conservation actions to protect, restore and manage differenthabitats.Species Management – Projects addressing the conservation needs of targeted wildlife species orgroups of species.Education and Awareness – Projects to improve awareness, understanding and skills relating toconservation and the environment.Other Options – Specialized projects that add value to your conservation efforts.Browse the Project Guidance library at wildlifehc.org/pg.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 3

What Do Landscaping Projects Look Like?Landscaping projects can either be new installations of landscaping, or existing landscaping updated to benefitbiodiversity. Landscaping projects stand apart from most habitat projects in that they have a formal, definedand often manicured appearance. Most commonly, landscaping projects will consist of formal gardens. Othertypes of landscaping projects could include rain gardens, demonstration areas, manicured tree islands, livingfences or native groundcover instead of turf grass.Considerations for Corporate LandsProjects implemented on corporate-owned lands have different circumstances and challenges to those onpublic lands, protected lands or wild lands.Which types of corporate lands are best suited for landscaping projects?Landscaping projects are suitable for a wide variety of corporate properties in rural, suburban and urbansettings. They will generally be found in areas that are visible to employees and passersby, such as near buildingentrances, site entrances and roads, and outdoor gathering areas.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 4

Addressing challengesThe corporate context presents certain challenges for implementing landscaping projects. Understanding theseconcerns and potential ways to overcome them can help your project succeed in the long term.ConcernResponseLandscaping crews may not be used to keepingTeams can provide landscaping crews with simpledetailed records about landscaping installation andactivity logs, cameras or other tools to help themmaintenance.easily document their activities.There may be aesthetic concerns that native plantsWHC staff or other partners can work with the site tolook weedy or plain.help develop an aesthetically-pleasing plant mixturewith blooms across many seasons and help create amore structured design.Signage can also be installed to inform people aboutthe project and its benefits to biodiversity.There may be concerns about the typical height ofIn a landscaping context, native plants will not neednative plants, which can be taller than many non-to grow as tall because there will be decreasednative ornamental species.competition for space and light. Species with alower average height profile can also be selected toconform to aesthetic preferences.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 5

ConcernResponseSome sites may encounter resistance to creatingTeams can educate and use appropriate siting andhabitat that attracts bees due to concerns aboutsignage to assuage concerns.stinging insects.It can sometimes be difficult to find sources ofInternet databases of native plant nurseries andnative plants.native seed suppliers can assist teams with identifying reputable, local sources for native plants.If local genotypes and non-cultivar plants aredesired, local native plant experts can help teamslocate reputable sources for these species.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 6

Getting Started with Landscaping ProjectsFor a project to qualify towardConservation Certification, you must beable to answer “yes” to five questions.1. Is the project locally appropriate?2. Does it have a stated conservation or educationThe following are suggested objectives forlandscaping projects. Your team may choose oneor more of these objectives, or develop your ownrelevant objectives. existing landscaping that provides habitat:objective?3. Does it provide value or benefit to the naturalcommunity?supporting documentation? participate and provide a basis for evaluation.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project Guidancefor a group of species such as pollinators--for an ecological community--to address a local conservation or socialUsing landscaping as a demonstration ofecosystem and their importance Using landscaping to facilitate conservationeducationlandscaping projects be designed to meet one orthe direction of the project, help motivate others to--the species in a local plant community orConservation and education objectivesmore conservation objectives. Objectives can guidefor a specific or rare speciesneed5. Does it exceed any pertinent regulatoryIt is a requirement of Conservation Certification that--or songbirds4. Have outcomes been measured and is thererequirements?Installing new landscaping or updating Contributing to a citizen science projectrelated to landscapingPage 7

The following strategies arerecommended to strengthen theconservation impact of your project: Establish native vegetation with a range of plan that establishes a baseline and monitorsoutcomes list, including wildlife benefit, soil and lightbloom throughout the growing seasonguide plant selection requirements, or its role in the naturalcommunity being demonstratedConduct a site analysis that evaluates soil,sunlight, etc. to provide information to helpBe implemented as part of a scalable planto establish native landscaping on various or community lands landscaping maintenance Include credible monitoring that contributes toa citizen science project Engage employees or community members inall aspects of the project Use the landscaping as a focal point foreducation about related topics such as soil,native plants, medicinal plants, growing food,landscaping-focused organization that furthers Identify and control invasive species, andreplace with native species, as part ofBe carried out in partnership with a respectedthe stated conservation objective of the projectBe meticulous about sourcing native plantsand other engineering materialscompany properties, or establish nativelandscaping outside the property on connectedDemonstrate an understanding of whyeach species was chosen for the plantingbloom times, such that there are flowers in Implement a scientifically-rigorous monitoringhistorical landscaping plants, etc. Communicate the purpose and the outcomesof the landscaping project to the community Educate the community about how toreplicate the landscaping project in theirhome gardenInclude artificial or manufactured structuresthat meet a conservation or education outcomeWildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 8

PartnershipsLandscaping projects implemented on corporateThe following terms, in any combination, maylands can benefit from partnerships with groups thatbe useful when searching online for itemshave established conservation or education objectivesrelated to this theme. Including informationrelated to landscaping and gardening. A team can useabout the location such as state/province orsuch a partnership to help design, create, or monitorcity will assist with finding locally-appropriateits landscaping project and provide educationalinformation.opportunities for employees and communitylandscapingnative groundcoverteam with obtaining funding for the project, andgardenornamental plantsidentify learning links to other conservation prioritiesnative plantswildlife gardeningin the region.native vegetationnative gardeningvegetablesnative landscapinghorticulturerain gardenbotanicaltree islanddesign, delivery, maintenance and monitoring ofbackyard habitatliving fencelandscaping projects.backyardconservationcompostA search for “landscaping” in the Conservationnative plantnurseriesmembers. Partners may also be able to assist theResourcesYour project may benefit from online or printedresources available for your region to support theRegistry returns over 250 projects implementednatural mulchthrough WHC’s certification program. This is a greatplace to find inspiration for your project and see whatothers are doing in and around your location.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 9

Understanding the Application ProcessDocumentation Planting/landscaping plan that showsWhen applying for Conservation Certification,appropriate location choice for the project,you will provide documentation of the planning,clumping and spacing, planting times, etc.implementation, maintenance and monitoring of your landscaping project. The following is requiredof earth for specific habitat needs such as:documentation for landscaping projects; however, youmay also submit additional supporting materials.Planting plan/design for all plantings that have beenRecommended items to include in the planting planare: --Bee nesting blocks--Insect hotels--Micro-topo changes for puddling areas orother water featuresdone, or any planting that has been done since theprogram last achieved Conservation Certification.Creation of artificial structures or movement Any additional steps taken to ensure successof the implementation, including irrigation,soil tests, soil prep, and revision of the plantPlanting list with information about functionlist by a technical expertthat includes:--Name of plant (common and scientificnames)--Blooming time--If the species is native to the region; if not,please provide reasoning for choosing it--What habitat/life cycle needs it provides,such as berries or seeds for forage or larvalhost for butterfliesWildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidanceMap/image of the project area, showing therelative size and approximate location of the project(other relevant information can be shown in themap as well, but is not required).Photographs or videos that depict the progress ofthe project implementation and management.Page 10

Maintenance plans that demonstrate appropriateactivities that meet the needs of the habitat tofully support the target species and support theconservation and education objectives.Baseline data that provides a biological baselineupon which post-implementation monitoring canbe based and used to evaluate the progress of theproject and determine next steps.Monitoring logs that show the frequency, type, andresults of monitoring of the project, whether in aninformal manner or a scientifically rigorous manner.At a minimum, monitoring of landscaping projectsshould include survival of plantings and evidence ofuse by wildlife.Examples of technical advice utilized in theproject, such as consultants, guidebooks, websites,journal articles, etc.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 11

Application questionsAs you complete the application online, you will be asked the following questions about your landscapingproject. These questions will help us understand and evaluate your project.QuestionWhy this question is importantObjectiveWhat are the project’s conservation objectives?Having a conservation objective is arequirement for certification.OverviewWhat is the total size of the landscaped area managed for thisproject?This provides us with a descriptionof your project to allow us to assessit.Describe the structure and relative location of the landscapedarea.Describe any artificial features of note if applicable.Give a brief description of the vegetation types found in thehabitat and list several of the common plant species.Briefly summarize activities taking place to manage thetargeted habitat.Upload a map showing the location and photos showing thelandscaped habitat.When did work on the ground begin?Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 12

HabitatCreation orExpansionQuestionWhy this question is importantGive a brief description of the vegetation types found in thehabitat and list several of the common plant species.For habitat, size and location areimportant factors that determinesuccess and ecological benefit.Upload a dated list of current plant species in the habitatincluding common and scientific names and whether thespecies is native to the region.Is this a new project not presented in previous applications?Does it replace a habitat with less ecological value?Describe the habitat prior to your project.Describe any design or plant selection considerations thatwere part of this new project.Upload documentation of the specific considerations.Since the last application, have you expanded the size of yourlandscaped area or the area being managed?What is the size of the landscaped area that has been addedsince the last application?Does the expansion replace a habitat with less ecological value?Describe the habitat present prior to your project.Describe any design or plant selection considerations thatwere part of this project expansion.Upload documentation of the specific considerations.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 13

ManagementQuestionWhy this question is importantHow is the area maintained?Appropriate management policiesand practices are also important toachieve the conservation objective.Describe the steps taken to maintain the habitat.Provide a timeline of maintenance and other completedactivities.Upload documentation of these activities.MonitoringWas baseline data collected for this project?Describe the types of baseline data collected.Upload the baseline data.Monitoring is essential tounderstand the impact of theproject and to be able to adapt theproject develops.Select each type of monitoring that is being carried out.List each type of monitoring, including the frequency and listany plans or protocols used.Upload the monitoring protocols, if applicable.Upload the monitoring data and any analysis, if applicable.Provide a brief summary of results from monitoring.Evaluate the success of the project. If there were any concerns,what are the plans to address them in the future?Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 14

EmployeeParticipationQuestionWhy this question is importantDo employees actively contribute to the project?Employee participation canstrengthen a project and secure itsfuture.How many employees participate in the project on a regularbasis?How many employee hours were spent on the followingactivities each year? Planning and ImplementationDescribe how employees are involved in this project.OtherParticipantsDo any groups or individuals outside of your company activelycontribute to the project on a regular basis?Select the types of groups.List the names of the groups you work with.Describe their involvement in this project.It is not always possible to recruitoutside groups to a project.Conservation and educationpartners can strengthen a projectand provide different audiences touse it for lessons or recreation, thusbroadening its reach.How many hours were spent by the groups on the followingactivities each year? Planning and ImplementationIf you work with a native landscaping specialist and have acurrent letter of support from them, upload it here.List additional sources of technical advice (e.g. website,guidebook, etc.) and describe how they were used.RegulatoryRequirementsAre any aspects of the project done in relation to regulatoryrequirements?Going beyond compliance is arequirement for certification.Explain how the project exceeds requirements.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 15

ConnectivityQuestionWhy this question is importantDoes the project connect with other native landscape habitatson neighboring land?Connectivity onsite and acrossfence lines helps to decreasefragmentation, one of the leadingcauses of habitat loss.Describe how the project connects with the other nativelandscaped habitats.Describe any coordinated management efforts with othernative landscaped habitats.AlignmentDoes the project align with any larger scale initiatives? (e.g.corporate strategy, regional conservation plan, migratorypathway, watershed plan, etc.)Is the project part of a corporate level commitment to nativelandscaping?Aligning conservation efforts withlarge-scale conservation plansand other regional conservationinitiatives allows a site-basedactivity to support a landscapescale objective.Upload documentation of your corporate commitment tonative landscaping.Does the project align with an existing conservation plan orother large-scale initiative?List the conservation plans or other large-scale initiatives theproject aligns with and provide website links, if available.How does your project align with these large-scale initiatives?ExistingCertificationsDoes this project have third party related certification?List the certifications and provide a website link if available.Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidanceOther certifications or recognitionsillustrate strong efforts andcommitments.Page 16

Content development for Conservation CertificationTo inform the development of Conservation Certification, WHC analyzed the projects it was recognizing throughits certification program to assess whether they were aligned with contemporary conservation and educationpriorities.Following this assessment and using information from it, WHC convened Advisory Committees around many ofthe conservation and education themes to develop the content that would guide practitioners and applicantsin the future. Some themes, including landscaping projects, that have not yet been informed by externalstakeholders, are presented to allow applicants to receive recognition. WHC plans to have all themes informed bystakeholders.More information can be found about this process in the “Our Impact” section of wildlifehc.org under“Commitment to Transparency.”Wildlife Habitat Council Landscaping Project GuidancePage 17

The WHC Strategy and Planning team can help you build a successful project byidentifying needs, making connections with partners and resources, and providingstrategies that meet business and conservation goals. Contact us today.strategyandplanning@wildlifehc.org Every act of conservation matters.301.588.8994 x2 wildlifehc.org

Landscaping projects can either be new installations of landscaping, or existing landscaping updated to benefit . biodiversity. Landscaping projects stand apart from most habitat projects in that they have a formal, defined and often manicured appearance. Most commonly, landscaping projects will consist of formal gardens.

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