How does your backyard biodiversity score?

Feb 2, 2023

In the heart of our cities, amid the concrete and cars, more and more people are thinking about how they can bring nature — and biodiversity — into their backyards. But does planting natives, trapping introduced predators, and creating good habitat for birds, bugs, and lizards really make a difference?

A recent study published in the journal Land Use Policy aims to find out. It explores how urban green spaces contribute to biodiversity conservation while also influencing the well-being of people.

The study — which was co-authored by Whirika’s own Mike Thorsen — led to the development of a tool to rate gardens on their levels of biodiversity. Mike looked at things like habitat extent, quality, and connectivity and how that might contribute to supporting biodiversity in urban environments.

Now, a new certification scheme called the GardenStar. This homeowner biodiversity assessment tool gives people a score based on the following four questions:

  • How much land is available for biodiversity?
  • What type of vegetation do you have?
  • Do you help biodiversity on your property?
  • Do you have a nature-friendly neighbourhood?

The study saw this certification scheme trialed on 89 properties across Te Wai Pounamu and could be adopted by local government, housing developers, and community groups. It’s ideal for not only enhancing and sustaining backyard biodiversity, but also for tracking trends in urban areas and helping to measure whether regional and national biodiversity goals are being met.

Want to learn more and try it for yourself? Check out the GardenStar tool for yourself.