Leading a nationwide trend in community concern for habitat loss, the Audubon Park Garden District has been officially designated an NWF Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). The APGD is the first neighborhood in Central Florida and only the 18th community in Florida to receive this honor. A Community Wildlife Habitat project creates multiple wildlife habitat areas in residents’ yards, schoolyards, business properties, community gardens, church properties, parks and other spaces.
Since 2008 the Audubon Park Garden District has been responsible for over 1,000 native and Florida friendly trees, shrubs, groundcovers and perennials being planted in the community. In 2015, with help from volunteer Carla Shuman and GreenUp Orlando, the APGD remade a city park, Song Bird Park, into an urban bird sanctuary. In 2018 the APGD partnered with the Monarch Initiative to plant more Monarch Butterfly habitats throughout the area, in addition to working with the The HIVE, which sponsored and planted a native plant demonstration garden in the neighborhood. The APGD Main Street program has also held gardening for wildlife workshops; provided businesses, schools, churches and residents with the information needed to transform private space into wildlife welcoming habitats; and has educated the public on the importance of water wise gardening and the danger posed to wildlife by systemic pesticides. The Community Wildlife Habitat certification is part of the APGD’s overall plan to be Central Florida’s first ecodistrict.
NWF commends the dedicated residents of the Audubon Park Garden District and the APGD Main Street program team for their wildlife conservation efforts and for coming together for a common purpose – to create a community where people and wildlife can flourish. At a time when communities are faced with the problems of losing habitat to development, the APGD stands out as a model for other communities to emulate. The knowledge and inspiration that this project has generated will lead Orlando residents and visitors to take better care of their natural world.