Wildlife-Friendly Management

Image credits: Mesh, Unsplash

Wildlife friendly management includes a variety of landscape management practices that seek to reduce human impacts to improve habitat quality by creating more naturalistic conditions. Practices can include reducing chemical inputs and minimizing vegetation maintenance to create greater habitat complexity.

Biodiversity role:

Wildlife friendly management practices improve habitat quality by increasing habitat complexity and minimizing human disturbance and toxic exposure for wildlife. These practices have been tied directly to increases in biodiversity.

Human health role:

Wildlife friendly management strategies can lead to improved air quality and reduced exposure to toxic substances. Strategies include the reduction of chemical inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, which contribute to cancer, birth defects, and other negative health impacts. Reduced use of mowers and leaf blowers improves air quality as well.

Key tensions and tradeoffs:

Safety concerns and cultural preferences for highly manicured greenspaces may necessitate more intensive practices that reduce value for wildlife. Selective pruning can allow for risk mitigation while still preserving habitat and lowering maintenance costs. In fire-prone regions, fire smart landscaping principles may require clearing of tree limbs, dead trees, and leaf litter.

Implement Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) involves a multi-tactic coordinated and adaptive approach to controlling pests including insects, pathogens, weeds, and rodents that is ecologically supportive and reduces chemical inputs.

Minimize vegetation maintenance

Avoid pruning and clearing leaf litter and debris to maintain habitat quality and limite pollution from gas-powered equipment. Dead snags, downed logs, leaf litter, and other organic material can provide resources and habitat for wildlife such as worms, lizards, birds, and small mammals and can be used for children’s imaginative play.

Build structure for wildlife

Add features such as bird houses, bee hotels, and bat boxes to the landscape to help support native species. Incorporate patches of bare ground free of mulch to provide habitat for ground nesting bees and other beneficial insects who prefer bare soil. Sand piles can be added to provide nesting sites for bees.

Plant native pollinator hosts

Plant native nectar-producing species that attract native insects to support biological control of unwanted pests, reducing the need for pesticides harmful to human health. Where possible, assemble plant species to create year round bloom for native pollinators.

Reduce mowing

Intensive lawn mowing practices can decrease plant and invertebrate diversity, while increasing pests. Reducing mowing frequency to just a few times a year or shifting to partial mowing increases plant and beneficial insect diversity, while reducing toxic emissions from landscape equipment.

Reduce chemical inputs

Chemical inputs, including fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides have profound impacts on biodiversity and human health. Alternatives, including switching to a lower maintenance landscaping design or IPM, can improve both biodiversity and human health outcomes.


Landscape maintenance should be scheduled strategically to minimize impacts to wildlife. Pruning or mowing should occur outside of the breeding season and be timed to allow seed set of native annuals. Landscaping specifically designated to provide habitats hould minimize maintenance disturbance as much as possible.

Include educational

Informational signage is an opportunity to educate the public about the ecological benefits of management practices that may otherwise be interpreted as messy or a sign of neglect.

previous arrow
next arrow