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NWF Community Wildlife Habitat™ Certification

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Butterfly at Snyder ParkFort Lauderdale is unique among urban areas in that it is home to a diverse array of wildlife: native and migrating birds, interesting insects, mammals around since this area was more Everglades than not, seasonal sea turtles, and of course our fish and marine life. All of these animals have a role to play in the health and quality of our environment. Many of them serve as natural pest control, such as ladybugs that feed on our city's whiteflies. Others are productive pollinators, such as the, butterflies, hummingbirds and bees that are so essential to our agriculture industry. Some balance the food chain, such as possums and native snakes which keep the rodent population in check. And others support our tourism industry, such as the sea turtles and manatees that tourists come from afar to see. 

The City of Fort Lauderdale strives to protect our wildlife through preservation of greenspace, night lighting adjustments, waterway guidelines, and more including the targeted development of habitat.  We are participating in the National Wildlife Federation's Community Wildlife Habitat™ program, which provides a fun way for residents, businesses, students and local organizations to get involved in protecting our wild neighbors.

What is a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat? 

The Certified Community Wildlife Habitat™ program is designed to encourage localities to achieve a critical mass of habitat suitable for native species. We have adopted growing habitats as part of the City’s vision and strategic plans, and monitoring our current certification provides us with an accountability system. Maintaining our Community Wildlife Habitat certification will strengthen the quality of our ecosystem, making us more resilient, and getting us further towards other goals outlined in City’s Sustainability Action Plan and long term vision.

How do we become a certified Community Wildlife Habitat?

There are two benchmark goals our City met in order to become a certified Community Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife FederationThe first was certifying a number of individual properties as Wildlife Habitats including residences and businesses, on school grounds and in public areas such as parks, community gardens, and places of worship. The minimum number of certifications for a City of our size is 639 properties as follows:





Places of Worship




Other Community Institutions


Community Green Spaces






The second benchmark is engaging the community in activities that help foster greater knowledge and understanding of the principles of the Certified Wildlife Habitat program. Each type of activity is worth a certain number of points. Once certification is achieved, a minimum number of activities totaling 30 points need to be completed annually to retain certification. Initial Certification activities and points required as follows:



Community Outreach Projects









Recertification requirements/activities as follows:

Secure a feature article in the local media about your project


Maintain info kiosk, library or website established during certification stage


Create a website for your project, If your community does not yet have one 10
Continued hosting of annual event started during certification stage


Participate (through a booth) in at least one community event (up to 4)


Host or organize a Habitat Stewards or conservation advocacy training          


Participate in a quarterly Community Wildlife Habitat conference call (up to 4) 10
Host a garden tour that features Certified Wildlife Habitat sites 10 
Complete a special project focused on protecting or restoring habitat for a specific wildlife species or native plant species in your community (i.e. -create a bluebird platform, build osprey platforms, etc. 10
Create a new demonstration garden, with educational signage 10 
Continue a regular column in your community paper/newsletter to educate community members about your project and how to take action 10
Deliver an oral presentation to a community group not yet associated with your project (up to 6)  5
Give a presentation on Community Wildlife Habitats to a neighboring community project (up to 6) 10
Mentor a neighboring community through the certification process  10 
Have a member of the habitat team serve on a community committee or board that addresses community environmental issues   5
Examine your community's weed ordinances and other public policies and work to make them more native plant and habitat friendly  10
Work with local park agencies to convert parkland to wildlife friendly landscapes  10 
Organize a community meeting with your congressional or legislative member about a current issue affecting wildlife  10 
Educate your community about their carbon or water footprint and provide actions they can take to reduce it  10 
Additional project approved by NWF - Add Notes   5
Total (Minimum 30 points needed annually) 30

How to Get Involved 

Want to get involved in making Fort Lauderdale a happier, healthier, and greener place for your neighbors, including the wild ones? Visit our page on Build Your Own Certified Wildlife Habitat.  There, you can learn how to create a habitat or certify an existing space.

You can build a habitat as an individual project, or band together with your neighbors to certify a whole neighborhood.

You can also get involved in the wider regional effort. Visit the NatureScape Broward Volunteer page for information on getting involved with Florida Master Gardener, Florida Master Naturalist, Natural Wildlife Federation Habitat Stewards, and North American Butterfly Association.

Visit NWF's webpage on Certified Community Wildlife Habitats for more information, and visit these websites to get started with your own habitat.

National Wildlife Federation - Garden for Wildlife

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is America's largest conservation organization and works to preserve wildlife for future generations.  Their "Garden for Wildlife" website is a comprehensive guide to developing natural habitat in almost any size space from acreage to containers.  Almost 175,000 habitats have been certified through NWF's programs, and their site has case studies on some of the most interesting.  Check there to find resources for every climate, as well as for residential and commerical applications. There are even lesson plans for schools and projects for students.  The site includes instructions for creating habitats, and you can apply for certification online as well.  


UF FFL-logo

Florida-friendly Yard Recognition

At the State level, Florida Yards & Neighborhoods (FYN) recognizes landscapes that promote the protection of water resources through the use of Florida-friendly landscape principles.  FYN offers their own certification program, which layers FFL atop the NWF's four requirements.  The program is offered through the University of Florida's IFAS extension.  Their website is the go to place for primary information on Florida-friendly landscaping.

NatureScape Broward 

Closer to home, NatureScape Broward is a county effort dedicated to the creation of Florida-Friendly backyards that conserve water, protect water quality, and create wildlife habitats in Broward County.  The City of Fort Lauderdale actively supports and benefits from the NatureScape program.  When you have your habitat certified through either the NWF or the Florida Yards progam, you qualify for classification as a Broward NatureScape.


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