“We have to raise the bar on our landscapes,” said Mr. Tallamy, a professor and chairman of the department of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware. “In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water.”
The article gives some details as to how native plant gardening really can achieve those goals: Tallamy talks about how even young canopy trees like oaks and maples can sequester hundreds of pounds of carbon per year, as well as support the animals around them. But nonnative trees sequester carbon too. So why plant an oak or maple?
It’s a handsome tree, for sure [an oak]. But so is a zelkova, or Japanese elm, you might argue, and that sequesters carbon, too. The difference is that native oaks support 557 species of caterpillars. The zelkova, none…. These caterpillars aren’t just entertaining to look at: 96 percent of all terrestrial birds in North America eat insects. And their young can’t survive without them.
Mr. Tallamy flashed images of bluebirds, catbirds and warblers, their beaks full of caterpillars, stuffing them down the throats of their voracious young. “Chickadees need 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars to feed one clutch,” he said.