Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sometimes They Disappoint You

We generally avoid political type issues on My Florida Backyard, but a recent news story caught our eye because it involves the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). My Florida Backyard has always been proud of being an NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat; our whole gardening philosophy has always been based on it. So we were disappointed to learn that NWF has announced a partnership with Scott's MiracleGro, the mega-company that manufactures the most commonly used chemical pesticides and fertilizers in the country.

Wildlife habitats have always been about putting the needs of wildlife above the convenience of humans. Broad application of fertilizers may keep the lawn green and the flowers constantly blooming, but the runoff of phosphates into waterways causes major pollution. Ants and other garden pests can be irritating, but overuse of pesticides throws off the balance of nature, killing all insects without regard for their place in the ecosystem.While we use the very occasional dose of MiracleGro or other fertilizers here and there in the gardens, we have a much higher focus on using the right plants in the right place and adding compost to enrich the soil. As for chemical pesticides? They don't have a place for us.

Here's the interesting thing, though. The reason we started eliminating chemical pesticides and fertilizers from our habitat was at the advice of NWF. When certifying our habitat through NWF, we had to meet five criteria, which we documented on the Our NWF Wildlife Habitat page right here on this blog. The first four were "Provide Food", "Provide Water", "Provide Cover", and "Provide Shelter to Raise Young". The fifth requirement was "Sustainable Gardening Practices", and included the following (among other items):
Organic Practices: Eliminate Chemical Pesticides • Eliminate Chemical Fertilizers • Compost
I just visited the NWF Certified Habitat page and guess what? The fifth requirement of "Sustainable Gardening Practices"  IS NO LONGER THERE. I just cannot believe this is a coincidence. An organization cannot partner with the largest producer of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and also advise against the use of them.

While a corporate partnership doesn't have to be bad thing for a non-profit organization, and I don't like to jump to conclusions, NWF has left me little option here. I can only believe that this corporate partnership will result in the watering-down of NWF's political stands and the actions they take. As long as NWF chooses to pursue this partnership and make overt changes to their recommendations as a consequence, I cannot in good conscience endorse their organization. Like many wildlife bloggers, I'll be making changes to that portion of this blog soon. It won't affect how the blog runs, of course, but National Wildlife Federation's Certified Wildlife Habitat will no longer be the model we use in My Florida Backyard.

That's all for the politics, folks. We now return you to regularly-scheduled Florida wildlife-watching.


  1. That is so sad, and what's worse, not surprising.

  2. Well that sucks. I'm wondering if some of the biologist who are apart of NWF have anything to say about this (as in if they are against it or not).

    Ideally it would be nice if we knew the reason behind the partnership before assuming.