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A Wildlife Makeover for Broward County School

Jamaica caper trees are among those being planted as part of an urban canopy to birds, wildlife and people in Broward County. (NatureScape Broward)
Jamaica caper trees are among those being planted as part of an urban canopy to birds, wildlife and people in Broward County. (NatureScape Broward)
April 28, 2017

LAUDERDALE LAKES, Fla. – Class is for the birds today at Lauderdale Middle School, where students, staff and volunteers will be planting dozens of trees to provide a habitat for migratory birds.

Patrick Fitzgerald, senior director of community wildlife at the National Wildlife Federation, which is helping to lead the effort, says this is just one of many projects aimed at developing what's known as an "urban canopy." He says not only will the project help beautify the school grounds, the trees will provide shade for the kids, clean the air, prevent water runoff into the sewer systems, and attract wildlife.

"There've been some great studies, even in the state of Florida, that show people who plant native plants and trees for wildlife on their property can actually attract twice as many species as properties that don't make that effort," he explained.

It's part of the Broward Habitat Connectivity Project, which - through the support of the Community Foundation of Broward - has already helped create similar habitats at several surrounding schools and parks.

More events and tree giveaways are planned throughout the community over the next year.

While these may seem like small steps, Fitzgerald says events like these plant important seeds of change.

"Forty trees going in at this school; we're going to be distributing 100 trees to the students, who will be able to take them home and plant them at home," he said. "But as we do more and more of this, all these actions can add up to a big impact."

Along with removing weeds and laying down mulch and topsoil, the students will plant Jamaica Caper and Simpson Stopper trees, both of which are native to the area.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL