Earth Day 2019 offers a platform for cities and counties in Central Virginia to amplify their environmental initiatives and launch new ones that focus on promoting biodiversity and protecting our species. From larger cities like Richmond and Charlottesville to rural towns, these communities play a critical role in protecting biodiversity and educating the public about the importance of species and biodiversity in regard to community wellbeing. Community gardens and urban farms feed cities and natural areas benefit community health by providing opportunities for outdoor activities.
Cities and towns around the world are leading the way and developing innovative plans to expand and protect urban ecosystems. Local governments have a wide array of options available to implement species and biodiversity protection plans. These include ordinances, citywide strategies and guidelines, public outreach, and education campaigns. For cities and counties without comprehensive plans in place or in development, there are many components of these plans that can be implemented individually and have a major impact.
Example initiatives that your city or county can consider for Earth Day 2019:
Charlottesville has initiated a Green City program, which encourages sustainable agriculture, green infrastructure, healthy habitats, and access to outdoor recreational activities. The city has had great success integrating this program into the daily lives of its citizens, even creating a green guide map, where you can learn all about different sustainability initiatives throughout the city. For example, you can find where all the community farms, pollinator gardens, and stream restoration projects are located in the city. You also can learn more about how to protect local plants and wildlife.
Beginning in 2008, Richmond started its RVA Green 2050 program, a bold initiative to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 through protecting and developing local natural habitat. The city also provides resources for people to make a difference at home, at work, and in the community. These include creating a wildlife friendly garden, preserving or rehabilitating land, turning a parking space into a parklet, and volunteering to maintain the city’s parks.
In 2016, Scottsville became the first official Bee City USA in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In so doing, it made the commitment to provide and promote healthy, sustainable habitats for bees and other pollinators. Scottsville also hosts an annual pollinator festival with several participating organizations, and is conveniently placed at the farmers’ market for optimal attendance.
On a smaller scale, Chesterfield County recently implemented a series of sustainable land care programs for its residents: creating healthy landscapes, conserving water resources, and planting pollinator friendly gardens. These help mitigate issues such as improper fertilization, the overuse of pesticides, and the spread of invasive species that can cause long-term problems for ecosystems.
Albemarle County has adopted a series of campaigns aimed at mitigating its environmental footprint. These include water resource management strategies such as watershed revitalization and mitigating the effects of stormwater runoff. The county also provides a native plant database for residents to learn about all the plants that thrive in the region and support native species. Other initiatives include an urban agricultural collective, a “buy local” program and even a toilet rebate program to replace older less efficient toilets.
Find out more about how your community can contribute here.