Growing a national park in your backyard

We were talking about old trees, and how some groups in the US and UK are trying to save the ancient ones, when someone mentioned “homegrown national parks”.

I was fascinated, and set out to learn more. And it turns out to be one of those wonderful ideas where individual action that you can take for yourself can wind up having a much larger effect if others do it, too. Or as agriculture professor Doug Tallamy puts it: small efforts by many people.

“Our National Parks, no matter how grand in scale are too small and separated from one another to preserve species to the levels needed,” he says. “Thus, the concept for Homegrown National Park, a bottom-up call-to-action to restore habitat where we live and work, and to a lesser extent where we farm and graze, extending national parks to our yards and communities.”

He describes the campaign as a ‘science-based grassroots call-to-action to regenerate biodiversity and ecosystem function by planting native plants and creating new ecological networks.” And he says it could effectively create the largest park in the country, bigger than all the existing ones put together, but widely distributed.

“We are at a critical point of losing so many species from local ecosystems that their ability to produce the oxygen, clean water, flood control, pollination, pest control, carbon storage, etc, that is, the ecosystem services that sustain us, will become seriously compromised.”

His 2020 book, “Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard,” introduced the idea of a Homegrown National Park. And now, in his online Homegrown National Park campaign, participants can commit their land to the movement by joining an interactive map and displaying a sign that tells neighbors what they are doing.

He knows what he is talking about. He has taught insect-related course for 41 years, authored 106 research publications,and written four books. Bringing Nature Home was published by Timber Press in 2007, The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014; Nature’s Best Hope, a New York Times bestseller, was released in February 2020, and his latest book, The Nature of Oaks, was released in March 2021. 

His awards include recognition from The Garden Writer’s Association, Audubon, The National Wildlife Federation, Western Carolina University, The Garden Club of America, and The American Horticultural Association.