NJ town will start mandating ‘native’ plantings on public land
Montclair could soon become the first town in New Jersey to adopt an ordinance designed to help sustain bees, butterflies and other pollinators that live in and pass through the Garden State.
According to Montclair Councilman Peter Yacobellis, the measure calls for the municipality to use at least 70% native trees and other vegetation when doing new plantings on public property.
He said there has been a significant decline in the number of pollinators over the past few decades, so the idea here is “what is the best opportunity to try and restore as much of the native habitat that used to exist for pollinators in a town like Montclair.”
Why it's important
He pointed out plants that are not native to the region usually cannot be pollinated by local butterflies, birds and insects.
Yacobellis said the state is within a migratory corridor for many pollinators so “to the extent you can establish or re-establish native vegetation, you’re creating that many more stopping points on the journey for a lot of these pollinator species, butterflies, birds and bees.”
He said by increasing more native plantings they have more vegetation to feed on, and it also helps the overall ecosystem.
He pointed out pollinators are helping local home gardens but it’s much more about “the food chain supply chain. These are pollinators that are heading out to pollinate crops around the country that do feed Americans and the rest of the world, so it’s critical that every place does its part.”
He stressed to help pollinators fulfill their mission, “all we really need to do is to look at how can we be restoring what was native to this area.”
Let's do our part
Yacobellis hopes other municipalities will adopt similar ordinances, and help in this kind of effort in a very simple way.
“If you’re looking at two different green shrubs and one is native and one is not, and the cost is relatively close, why not go to the one that we know attracts and supports pollinator species,” he said.
He acknowledged taking this step in Montclair is not going to produce any dramatic change but “we do want to start making conscious decisions going forward about the shrubs and the trees and the flowers and things that we’re purchasing.”
He said town officials decided it would be best to require at least 70% native vegetation and not 100% because supply chain disruption issues are limiting deliveries of trees, bushes and other plantings to local nurseries.
The ordinance is expected to be adopted next month.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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