Make a Difference on Earth Day With Manatee Audubon

The Giving Coast

Pictured: This native plants landscape garden encourages homeowners to plant native plants in their yards to create a habitat for wildlife. Photo by Patty Ford.

Celebrate Earth Day with Manatee Audubon this year by volunteering to plant a microforest on Saturday, April 20, from 8am to 12pm.

The Manatee County Audubon Society (MCAS), a chapter of the National Audubon Society is dedicated to raising awareness of birds, wildlife, and the native habitat in Manatee County and the nearby areas. They accomplish this through maintaining wildlife habitats like the Felts Audubon Preserve, offering education programs for members of all ages, leading advocacy efforts, and participating in land and wildlife conservation projects.

DeeAnna Dowdle is the vice president of the 501c3. She, along with other volunteers of MCAS will be leading the Earth Day project of planting 1600 trees to create a microforest at Felts Audubon Preserve. Microforests are one of the region's most powerful tools against climate change. “The microforest is an idea from a famous biologist in Japan and these have been planted around the world,” Dowdle explains. “On April 20, we will be planting trees closer together than one ordinarily would and that will make them seek light. In 30 years, we will have a huge forest so people who plant the trees with us will be able to bring their families back in a decade and see the forest, knowing that they contributed to creating it.”

Dowdle is hoping to have between 50 and 100 volunteers for the event in which 1600 trees will be set beside pre-drilled holes. Volunteers will simply take the plastic off of the cup of the tree and drop each small plant into a hole along with a gel pack which retains water and helps the tree get a better start. They will then scoop dirt around the tree and go onto the next planting. Children are encouraged to come along with their adults. “We think that if we can get children involved in and connected to nature, it will have such an impact throughout their whole lives and perhaps even guide them in certain directions.”  Dowdle recommends that all participants bring water, a hat and gloves and anything else to protect them from the sun.

In an effort to raise awareness and appreciation of  our native habitat, MCAS recently planted a garden as a model for homeowners to plant in their own yards using all native plants. “One of the interesting things we’ve learned is that if we plant a beautiful, exotic plant that maybe is from Thailand or China or South America in our yards, there may not be any bugs, birds or animals that are dependent on it and so they won’t use it. But by planting native plants, we are helping to cultivate our own local animals, bugs and birds, so our model teaches people about native plants as part of our conservation effort,” shares Dowdle. “At Manatee Audubon Felts Preserve, we are working to bring more people to nature so nature becomes preserved.”

Pictured: This native plants landscape garden encourages homeowners to plant native plants in their yards to create a habitat for wildlife. Photo by Patty Ford.

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