Although every species of wildlife
has its own requirements for survival, there are basic requirements
for wildlife survival that should be kept in mind when developing
a habitat: food, water, cover and space. When these requirements
are available in abundance wildlife can flourish. However, when
habitat requirements are in short supply, the number and distribution
of wildlife is limited and thereby becomes what is called a limiting
So, let’s take a closer look at the importance of these requirements:
• Food: Each species eats specific foods regardless of
what is available to them. Also, some plants offer more nutritional
value than others and availability varies depending on the time
of year. For this reason, the quality and quantity of food made
available for wildlife is very important.
• Water: All wildlife species need water. Some sources of
water are consistently available, such as bodies of water, while
others are available depending on time of day or season. Those
dependent on specific times include snow, dew and vegetation.
Therefore, ensure that your habitat has some source of water.
• Cover: Cover can take many forms and is needed to protect
wildlife while nesting, sleeping, playing and traveling. Some
forms of cover are rocks, trees, burrows and other natural forms.
• Space: If they are to thrive and survive, all species
of wildlife need space. Overcrowding can lead to competition over
the habitat requirements. Therefore, only a specific number of
animals should live within a given area.
So, given the varying ways that wildlife plantings lend to their
habitat, here are a few suggestions for successful wildlife plantings:
• Choose trees and shrubs with high wildlife value, particularly
seed, berry and fruit producing species. Plants that hold their
fruit through the winter and early spring supply wildlife with
a critical winter food source. Some suggestions are dogwoods,
chokecherry and ninebark.
• Restore previously disturbed sites by planting for wildlife.
• Establish living fences – rows of shrubs, trees
or vines around field boundaries to reduce soil erosion, retain
soil moisture and provide essential food and cover.
• Plant various covers in fence rows, windbreaks and yard
trees to create a multi-layered habitat.
• Remember that conifers provide winter cover for wildlife
and should be incorporated into any wildlife planting scheme.
• Protect wildlife from livestock by fencing livestock out
of designated habitat areas.
• Avoid fall plowing when possible and leave standing food
Wildlife plantings can improve the beauty of your land, help with
pest control and damaging small animals and improve the numbers
of desirable wildlife which will increase your personal enjoyment
of the land.
If you have any questions, you can contact your local forestry
commission for more help with private woodland management and tree