5 Easy Steps to Removing Toxic Monoculture Lawn

There are more than 40 million acres of toxic, monoculture lawns in the United States. These endless swaths of green nothingness are not natural, and are thus extremely difficult and expensive to maintain. According to the EPA, monoculture lawns are responsible for a staggering 5% of US total annual CO2 emissions. 

Biodiversity loss is another epic failure of our perilous lawn obsession which has placed lawns under the intense scrutiny of global leaders who are searching for various ways to restore biodiversity that’s required to maintain human life on earth. 

Author Justin Gregg, and Senior Research Associate with the Dolphin Communication Project, outlines the grim lawn data in Chapter 6 of his award-winning book If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity. “Lawns are a monoculture wasteland. They’re almost entirely useless as a habitat for wildlife,” Gregg writes as he expounds on the US lawn folly, noting that lawns require 1.2 billion gallons of carbon emitting gasoline each year, and that one hour of a gas powered lawn mower is the equivalent of 100 miles in a car.

Further, American lawns require 9 billion gallons of water per day to keep thick and lush, which is nearly one third of all the daily water usage in the US. Gregg emphasizes that despite the massive amount of water supplied to lawns, evaporation, wind, and runoff prevent as much as 50 percent of it from reaching the grass roots.

In March 2017, the Deep Roots Project published an alarming assessment about lawn pesticides, toxic fertilizers and the health risks associated with our irresponsible lawn mania. “Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops. Nearly 80 million pounds of pesticide active ingredients are used on US lawns annually. On top of this, 90 million pounds of chemical fertilizers are used on lawns annually. Additionally, 26.7 million tons of air pollutants from mowing are introduced annually.”

All these cancer-causing pesticides and chemicals are a serious health risk, especially for children and pets that play in the grass. Toxins vaporize in high heat that we inhale when we’re outside enjoying our beautiful lawns from the deck or patio. 

In If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity, Gregg highlights that lawns were invented in the first half of the 18th century by Capability Brown in the UK, and were championed by several of our founding fathers, most notably George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, (two of Capability’s most ardent fans). The famous sprawling lawns of Mount Vernon, for example, and Monticello, were plastered onto postcards and sent to hundreds of millions of homes from coast to coast, spanning two centuries. This sealed our biodiversity loss /lawn crisis fate.

According to the World Economic Forum 2022 Global Risks Report, biodiversity loss is ranked number 3 on a list of the10 most severe risks humanity faces over the next 10 years. Our extinction is now a strong possibility. We must transform our lawns back to their original, most natural state. The survival of the human species depends on it.

Soil health expert Gabe Brown provided tips on the best way to transition lawns to biodiverse no mow in an interview. The 5 Steps to eliminating toxic, monoculture lawns are as follows:

  1. Decide how much of your lawn you’d like to convert to biodiverse no mow (50% – 100%?!).
  2. Deprive the section of lawn being removed of sunlight by laying down a few layers of wet newspaper or cardboard across and cover with straw or mulch.
  3. Cardboard and newspaper are compostable and will enrich the soil with much needed nutrients.
  4. Wait 4 – 8 weeks.
  5. Begin planting a rich diverse blend of 7 – 25 native perennial species of groundcover, flowers, and shrubs right away. Don’t forget to include pollinator species. Herbs like thyme make an excellent ground cover choice. Find a local nursery to help create a wonderful combination of companion species to help block pests.

Justin Gregg summed it up well in the closing of If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal, “Our many intellectual accomplishments are currently on track to produce our own extinction, which is exactly how evolution gets rid of adaptations that suck.” ✿

How to Make It Rain

Soil health becomes even more important once we realize our food supply is at risk due to conventional agriculture practices merging with climate change weather events that increase droughts and extreme heat. Currently, according to US Drought Monitor, there are 14 states experiencing extreme and exceptional drought conditions, with the following states having the highest exposure:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Utah

In the center of California’s prosperous farm belt in the San Joaquin Valley, farmers are struggling to stay afloat after four years of extreme drought. In June 2021, the Fresno Bee published an article with the headline: “San Joaquin Valley needs to stop waiting to be rescued.” The piece outlined that the Bureau of Reclamation issued an update for the Central Valley Project for Agriculture, informing farmers that water deliveries to famers were being reduced from 5% to 0%. Farmers would now have to rely on groundwater, which would likely be challenging due to reduced snowpack and little to no rain.

“Soil. Earth. Ground. And due to its vast scale and its ability to sequester immense quantities of greenhouse gases, it could just be the one thing that can balance our climate, replenish our freshwater supply, and feed the world. That’s why some people are racing to save our soil, in hopes that our soil just might save us.”

Award winning documentary, Kiss the Ground

Pioneer soil health expert, and North Dakota rancher, farmer and author, Gabe Brown, knows the perils all too well and has been working tirelessly since the mid-nineties to educate and promote the six principles of regenerative agriculture to farmers across the country in an effort to help prevent the precarious downward spiral that leads to soil degradation when heat and drought set in. Additionally, Gabe was invited to speak to the House Agriculture Committee back in spring 2021 about the impact of climate change on farming. 

I recently spoke with Gabe and asked him what he recommended for homeowners in states experiencing drought conditions. Is it better to conserve water, or plant diverse no mow plants? He explained that the regenerative soil health principles are the same everywhere, and can be applied to lawns despite tough conditions. He suggested the following:

  • Plant diverse native species that are low water users.
  • We need living plants in order to get more rainfall (“people don’t often believe this, but it’s true”).
  • Living plants attract moisture conditions.
  • Plus they emit moisture.
  • Way better off to grow something than not.
  • We’re compounding the problem by NOT growing things.
  • Need to grow the right kind of plant that can tolerate these conditions.
  • Not only will plants create rain, they’ll also boost soil health and store more carbon above and below ground.

This can seem challenging to wrap our minds around, so I better repeat. If we want rain, we have to start planting the right native species. Live roots in the ground generate the rain.

Next Steps

  • A quick search online populates lists of plants that grow well in drought conditions.
  • Become a citizen scientist and test to see which species grow best in your community.
  • Diverse mix of no mow, drought tolerant grasses are ideal. 
  • Once we feel more certain about which plants will survive we can pass the word to neighbors as well as the environmental department at town hall. Collective action will turn us all into rainmakers. 
  • Let’s give it our best shot.

Good luck!

by Noreen Wise

© Copyright 2023. ALL Rights Reserved.

Mysterious Forest Wonders!

Forest trails provide the most wondrously adventurous experiences. The scents, the sounds, the beauty. The feel of the rough bark. The unexpected stones and roots that jut out of the winding pathways. The spell-binding magnificence of nature’s mysterious ways.

At times, we even have the opportunity to taste nature. Delicious wild fruits and berries that line the trails as we hike deeper into the twisting natural mazes. (I love the wild blackberries that line the Ambassador Whitehouse Trail at Sky Meadows State Park in Northern Virginia in early July. Hikers are invited to graze as we move along. Some families with young children bring containers to fill and take home.) 

Completely surrounded by nature in the heart of the forest, positively impacts our physical and mental wellbeing, infusing us with a rush of beneficial chemicals that are found in the plants themselves (phytoncides) as well as the release of our body’s neurotransmitters (serotonin and endorphins). This is a natural response, whether or not we’re aware of it, that rejuvenates our spirit, reduces stress, and clears our mind, often filling us with wonder and awe. The Japanese refer to this rejuvenation as “forest bathing.”

While making our way along a forest trail, it isn’t long before we may spot something magical and unexplainable. When this happens, I end up spending the rest of the hike trying to solve the mystery: ie, curvy tree trunks, strange-sized holes in the dirt, four different trees growing out of one massive base. How? What? How again?

“The most beautiful thing that we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.”

Albert Einstein 

The Appalachian trail runs through Sky Meadows State Park in Northern Virginia, which adds another layer of wonderment to my forest experience. Apparently, 350 million years ago, back when there were two giant land masses, the Northern Hemisphere and Southern (Laurasia and Gondwana), the Appalachians used to be connected to the Scottish Highlands, and the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Western Europe. This is very cool to ponder while navigating the many boulders and rocks along the trail.

I don’t like to be afraid while I’m hiking. Bears often lurk behind the trees deep in the woods. I bought bear bells so I can make some noise while I courageously venture forward. A few times, horses have tried to gallop past unexpectedly, causing me to leap into the tangled forest understory where I’ve spotted that many more interesting discoveries.

“Picture This” app is an exciting way to quench my curiosity as I quickly try and guess which tree species this or that tree or shrub might be as I admire the various shaped leaves. 

I’m intrigued by the artistic masterpieces that nature can create on its own. How is this possible, I wonder.

And then, one day out of the blue, in the thick of Virginia winter, there was an astonishing human created masterpiece tucked between a few tall trees in a Fairfax County forest. Did everyone who passed along the same trail see this, too? During all my many years, and tens of thousands of hours of hiking forests and trails from the East Coast to the West Coast, and many states in between, I’d never seen anything like it.

It was absolutely astonishing, causing instant dismay and awe. It’s very rare that human artistic efforts can eclipse that of nature’s.

Behold! An anonymous, highly-skilled artisan (or team of artisans) who crafted this masterful work in the bitter cold in less than two weeks. ✧

by Noreen Wise

© All Rights Reserved.

Is Bermuda the Shrub Capital of the World?

Within just a mile or two of leaving Bermuda’s LF Wade International Airport, and crossing over the glimmering Causeway to North Shore Road, I became acutely aware of the breathtaking flora that seemed to fill every nook and cranny of Bermuda’s uniquely rich and beguiling landscape.

Dense flowering shrubs awash in vibrant colors — some soaring 15-20 feet into the air — lined the narrow, winding roads, most of which were flanked on both sides by venerable stone walls. These dazzling specimens beautified the Bermuda byways, providing privacy for homeowners who were outside enjoying their little patch of paradise, and served as effective pollution filters for toxic fossil fuels spewing from passing mopeds and under-sized autos. But most importantly, Bermuda’s thick, dense assemblage of woody shrubs and flowering perennials sequester vast amounts of carbon in the plants themselves and in the soil below. 

My wonderful cabby Ty (Sammy’s Speedy Cab) shared numerous island insights as we wove our way through the tamed wilderness. “There are very few trees on Bermuda,” he said. “Trees topple over in the strong winds.” 

Ah hah! That explained the rare phenomenon I was witnessing. Few if any tall trees, yet zillions upon zillions of sensational shrubs and perennials of all shapes, sizes and colors. Each one vital to Bermuda’s wild and wonderful ecosystem, and each equally valuable to the global effort to restore biodiversity, and protect and conserve 30% of the world’s natural landscape by 2030.

“Nature is humanity’s best friend. Without nature, we have nothing. Without nature, we are nothing.”

António Gutteres, UN Secretary General, COP15 Biodiversity Conference, Montreal, December 7, 2022

According to Michael Charters of Flora of Bermuda website, Bermuda has 15-17 endemic species that are only found on Bermuda, and 150-165 native species. All others were introduced, many of which caused irreparable harm. Charters explains on his site that 95% of Bermuda’s thick forests of cedars were wiped out by two scale insects in 1946; 8 million trees were lost. Fortunately, the cedars are finally on their way back, with 10% of the original 8 million being restored. Bermuda now has its Invasive Alien Species Regulations 2022 to help protect its rich biodiverse island terrain.

Bermuda’s incredible effort to protect, restore and care for its its biodiverse wonderland is perhaps the best example of what other countries can do to meet the biodiversity targets agreed upon by the 190 countries that participated in COP15’s Biodiversity Conference in Montreal this year, (most notably the United States which has an appalling 40 million acres of monoculture lawns that use 235.2 trillion gallons of water to maintain, which have devastated biodiverse ecosystems from coast-to-coast, endangering pollinator species across North America and threatening our food supply).

If every landowner in the US, maximized the area that lines their property, and house walls, walkways, as well as the ground beneath their trees, with a variety of native shrubs, perennials, and groundcover, ideally 15-25 species or so, all flowering at different times of the year, we’d be well on our way to overcoming the global biodiversity crisis.

Why would anyone be opposed to having our US landscapes look like Bermuda?

“Nature is on life support system. It is the source and sustainer of the air we breath, the food we eat, the energy we use, the jobs and economic activity we count on, the species that enrich human life, and the landscapes and waterscapes we call home.”

António Gutteres, UN Secretary General, COP15 Biodiversity Conference, Montreal, December 7, 2022

by Noreen Wise

© All rights reserved.

Biodiversity & Social Equity | Kew for a Pound

At Climate Action Now (CAN) we believe in restoring the lost biodiversity in our yards, local communities, cities and suburban forests. We also believe this is critical to the long term health of our planet and that we can all play a part in this global project.

But at times, the daily pressures of life get in the way. Are we going to make it work on time? Is there food in the refrigerator to make the family dinner tonight? Do I have enough money for this month’s groceries? 

Sustainability and focusing on eco-issues has very real financial and demographic fault lines. It has often been accused of being a concern of the privileged. 

That is why we work so hard to make CAN accessible to all. Our $5 campaign and focus on regular families and HOAs are consistent with our mission to make biodiversity something that everyone can become involved with.

With that value in mind we were thrilled to see the Kew for One Pound initiative in the UK. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew were created in 1759 by Prince Frederick and Princess Augusta and made public in the 1898 by Queen Victoria. The gardens cover over 300 acres in South West London including 14,000 trees, art galleries, exhibitions, playgrounds and glasshouses full of rare plants. It was recognised as a UNESCO World heritage site in 2003.

Our purpose is to help stop biodiversity loss and develop nature-based solutions to some of humanity’s biggest global challenges.  Behind the scenes Kew employs over 350 scientists working to “understand and protect plants and fungi for the well-being of people and the future of all life on Earth.”

All that work is expensive and Kew relies on its visitor revenues to fund this critical research. A standard adult ticket bought on the day costs £19.50 ($26.50) and a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children costs £44.50 ($60). For those on lower incomes this is an impossible barrier to entry. 

The new Kew for A Pound brings together biodiversity and social equity. Simply because you don’t have disposable incomes it does not mean you are not interested in the natural world and the urban green spaces around you. 

We love that they want to get everyone excited about restoring biodiversity & beautifying our suburban & city landscapes, yards, corporate campuses, suburban forests, highways and byways. This is for everyone and we want you to join us!

Julia Fawsley Grant, Board of Directors Climate Action Now – Director of Development. Julia coaches small companies working to do good in the world along with freelance business development, content and policy research. Her work on organisational Environmental, Social and Governance strategy has appeared in Eco Living Magazine, The Business Magazine, Start Ups Magazine and The Lawyer. 

*Image Credit: AdobeStock

Boosting Biodiversity In our Yards to Create Conservation Corridors

“If all [humankind] were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.” — E. O. Wilson, Naturalist

We’re at a life-altering crossroads in the history of human civilization as scientists warn yet again of the importance of acting quickly to stay below 1.5ºC and prevent sustained catastrophic weather events. Pretty terrifying, right? Thankfully, homeowners everywhere can play a vital role in one of the nature-based solutions: planting a maximum number of layered native species in 25% of the front yard, and as much of the backyard as possible, in order to boost biodiversity.

  • Small trees
  • Shrubs 
  • Perennials 
  • Groundcover 

Not only does a small patch of biodiversity significantly boost carbon drawdown in our soil, along with restoring soil health, it restores our ecosystem, helps purify the air and the ground water, and prevents the need for pesticides that kill all the insects.  

When neighbors work together on a street and in a neighborhood, with each homeowner planting as many different native species as possible, and their selections being different than their next door neighbor’s, the benefits are increased that much more.

And if every home on a given street and in a neighborhood maximizes biodiversity within the lines of HOA rules, a biodiversity corridor is established. If each neighborhood in a town participates, the corridor becomes that much bigger and the benefits are multiplied. Pollinator species are of vital importance, of course, with lots of milkweed everywhere being the ideal. 

Success! You're on the list.

Currently, birds are dying en route to their warm winter hangout because there’s so few places to stop and eat. Many birds eat insects, in fact 550 million tons of insects a year according to USA Today. Insects are an excellent source of protein. There are specific native species that can be planted in yards that attract birds like wrens, purple martins and goldfinches which then eat the bugs and act as pest control.

“Each of these species are masterpieces of evolution. Each has persisted for thousands to millions of years. Each is exquisitely adapted to the environment in which it lives, interlocked with other species to form ecosystems upon which our own lives depend in ways we have not begun even to imagine.” —E. O. Wilson

Our temperatures are warming which alters the planting season a bit. Below is a link that advises on best time to plant bare roots in Virginia. The Plant NoVa Native website also has planting schedule details and a lengthy list and description of Northern Virginia native species. Fall is the ideal time if planting seeds.

“Nature and community in harmony.” 


  1. Are there existing trees in your yard? Are they native or invasive? If native, continue to Step 2. If Invasive, contact Audubon society and inquire about invasive removal. Invasives destroy our ecosystems and undermine the well-being of insects. If there are no trees in your yard, that’s the first decision you’ll make. What type of tree, large or small?
  2. Find an online list of native species for your area. Sift through using the following filters: sun/shade, moisture, soil type, color, blooming season, height, hardiness zone.
  3. What’s growing beneath your trees? For most homeowners, there’s only dry mulch or lawn. Boosting biodiversity is about adding diverse layers of shrubs, perennials and ground cover.  Begin with selecting three different native shrubs, each that blossoms in a different season. Ideally, one should be an edible berry shrub. If you choose blackberry, encourage your neighbor to choose blueberry, and the next neighbor red raspberry. Choosing a color scheme (two or three colors) begins here as well and you’ll continue on with the same colors, in various shades, when you selects the perennials. (It’s best not to choose boxed shrubs, but rather the free-growing wild shrubs that we see in forests.)
  4. Beneath the shrubs, there should be a wide variety of pollinator perennials that blossom in the three different seasons, approximately 7-15 different species, depending on how much land you’re working with.
  5. Surrounding the base of the perennials, a rich variety of native ground cover. Follow the same rules that you followed for selecting shrubs and perennials.  The numbers of different species of ground cover will be approximately double the number of perennials. The circumference is now much bigger and the plants are smaller, so there will be more.
  6. Annuals should be avoided. Best strategy for ecosystem restoration and carbon drawdown is stability and consistency. Roots will grow and connect beneath the soil surface.
  7. If town ordinances and HOA covenants allow for a larger area of biodiversity in your neighborhood, and less turf lawn, then the best next step is to connect two trees that have biodiversity build-outs with a biodiversity connector strip. You can add a small tree in the middle if that works, or a larger shrub, and keep layering the same way following the same rules. The goal is to keep the soil covered 100 percent with plants that will create a soil armor, locking in moisture and increasing water infiltration rate. 
  8. Milkweeds are always wonderful along a fenceline.
  9. This same plan can be executed on a micro scale if your front yard is small.
  10. Good luck. Let’s make biodiversity happen!


 “We must rewild the world.”—Sir David Attenborough, A Life on Our Planet

We can do this!

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

✦ By Noreen Wise, Founder & CEO Gallant Gold Media, Founder & Executive Director Climate Action NOW,  author and climate journalist 

Compost Boosts Carbon Sink

Compost is a big deal in the calculus for increasing carbon sink in our soil. It provides one of the most effective methods for the US public to assist with cutting carbon as deeply and swiftly as possible.

Peat is a compost. It looks very much like soil, but is simply partially decaded vegetation rich in nutrients. These nutrients are what enable the increased absorption of carbon. Peatlands are only 3% of our global lands, yet they store approximately “30% of the earths soil organic carbon.” In light of our extreme climate crisis, peat should never be removed from its environment to be sold to consumers for profit.

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The ever increasing carbon levels as the global population continues to grow, demands that we each do our own part in every way possible to curb carbon, especially in light of the fact of how simple and easy this actually is.

As we hurry to build infrastructure to support solar energy and EV autos, it makes sense to simultaneously rush to improve our natural carbon storing assets, which will further the lowering of CO2 in our atmosphere.

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Creating compost bins wherever possible can provide the much needed extra compost for forests, home gardens, public gardens and parks. It was exciting to see a “Compost” bin at the restaurant where I ate today. It was lined up with the other options at the recycling and garbage hub. I always feel so hopeful when a business “gets it” and does it’s little part. The care and maintenance of a compost bin in a restaurant is minor, but the benefit to society is huge. It pretty much follows the same ratio mentioned at the top of the page: 3% / 30% .

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We can do this!

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

✦ By Noreen Wise, Founder & CEO Gallant Gold Media, Founder & Executive Director Climate Action NOW,  author and climate journalist 

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Top 7 Natural Deer Repellant Hacks

As we race to restore our habitat, as well as dramatically improve soil health on every acre of land in the US, let’s review the top tricks used to naturally divert deer from our yards. Habitat restoration is also wildlife restoration. Our gardens and no mow lawns will become magnets for deer, birds, pollinators and a few furry rascals.  

Remember though, our primary goal in this urgent effort to drawdown legacy load carbon from the atmosphere is to save what’s left of our two icecaps. “Without our white icecaps, less of the sun’s energy is reflected back out to space, and the speed of global warming increases,” warns Sir David Attenborough in his documentary A Life on Our Planet

Heart of the matter. Deer seem to be perpetually ravenous, and able to devour an entire backyard garden plot in one visit, which can be incredibly distressing after so much time is spent planting and nurturing our landscapes. Thankfully, many determined gardeners across the decades have masterminded clever techniques to help us out.

A combination of several diverse tips may net the most effective results. Diversity seems to be the best solution for everything. As Gabe Brown says, “Mimic nature.” Nature loves diversity.

Top Seven Deer Repellent Tips

  1. If your budget allows, fences are extremely effective in keeping deer out of the garden. In fact, since we’e trying to maximize habitat restoration, and need as many diverse species of shrubs, perennials and grasses in the ground as possible, the best option may be to plant a natural fence around your garden or yard using native species like wintergreen box shrubs, holly, etc.
  2. Deer are similar to humans in having preferences in what they do and don’t like to eat. Their strong sense of smell makes them finicky about certain species. These particular species tend to be our favorites like lavender, mint, basil. This works perfectly with no mow tapestry lawns made up of a variety of herbs in the mix. Perhaps lining the lawn entrance and outside border with the most fragrant species. Deer are also fussy about texture. They tend to stay away from prickly, fuzzy and thorny. Roses are a great natural barrier, fragrant and thorny.
  3. Deer have favorite plants, too. These should be placed as close to your house as possible. When buying seeds or seedlings, the packaging may highlight whether the species is a deer fave or repellant. A quick online search will also clarify. For example, deer love hostas and daylilies, so you might want to choose these to line the walls of your house, and / or placed below tees or shrubs that line your house.
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  1. Scare tactics work and can be a fun creative project to enjoy with your children. Effective scare tactics include: objects that move such as flags or unique garden ornaments, also wind chimes, or motion activated sprinklers, as well as motion activated garden lights. You can visit Amazon or Google to find a list of products for your particular setting. I hope you’ll consider several, or one of each of these options for maximum effectiveness.
  2. Deer may be extra nimble out in a meadow or flat lawn, but they’re actually quite clumsy when it comes to garden levels and sunken gardens. If you’re overhauling your lawn and have the budget to create tiers, this may be the ideal natural way to keep deer at bay.
  3. Creating DIY smell repellents to fend off deer is another solution. Some gardeners are jazzed by how effective hanging bars of soap or fabric softeners from a tree, fence or post works. There are also rotten egg or garlic mixtures, as well as hot pepper spray.
  4. And then there’s the ultra simple DIY deer repellant hack, stringing clear fishing line two or three feet above the ground, tied to stakes surrounding a particular garden bed that you may be worried about.

We’re all set. Oh, one more thing. I strongly encourage you to stay away from chemical solutions. These products may seem ideal in the short run, saving time and energy, but they kill the microbes in the soil that are working so hard to drawdown carbon. The goal in switching to no mow tapestry lawns and adding extra layers of shrubs and perennials, is to improve soil health, increase carbon drawdown, conserve water, and reduce carbon emissions.

Best of luck in greening up. Let’s maximize carbon drawdown and save our planet.

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

✦ By Noreen Wise, Founder & CEO Gallant Gold Media, Founder & Executive Director Climate Action NOW,  author and climate journalist 

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Kunming UN 2021 Biodiversity Conference

Biodiversity is beautiful. And biodiversity is a happiness and mental health booster. Thus, how beneficial is it that one of the solutions to the climate crisis is increasing biodiversity everywhere, in yards and communities across the globe, even on the small tiny postage stamp-sized specks of land that are often found in front of townhomes.

Nations across the globe met virtually in Kunming, China for COP15’s Kunming UN Biodiversity Conference Part 1, October 11-15, 2021. At the conclusion, the Kunming Biodiversity Declaration was adopted and spells out the global aspirations for the next 9 years. Part 2 of the conference will take place in April of 2022, and is projected to be in person, at which time the participating countries will sign an agreement similar to the Paris Agreement, that will address biodiversity, nature, and the environmental side of the climate action coin.

The only country not participating in the biodiversity conversation at this time is the United States.

“Addressing the challenge of halting ongoing losses of species and genetic diversity and the damage to our ecosystems will determine the well-being of humanity for generations to come,” [CBD Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema] says. “Protecting nature’s invaluable contributions to people requires that we harmonize our policies and actions at every level. The global biodiversity framework, based on the best available science and evidence, is fundamental to meeting these needs.”

Decision-making in the planning & development offices in each and every town in the world will either be working in alignment with the global biodiversity goals, or will be working against it. The choices are binary. In or out. 

Micro pocket of biodiversity in townhome community in Fairfax,Virginia

The following are the 8 key takeaways of the Kunming Biodiversity Conference & Declaration:

  • 30% of land and sea must be protected
  • Reduction in rate of invasive alien species being introduced to new habitats
  • Nature-based carbon drawdown goal should be 10 gigaton of carbon per year, and all planting efforts should avoid harming nature 
  • Reduction in nutrients lost to the environment
  • Reduction in pesticides
  • Elimination of plastic waste 
  • No incentives that are harmful to biodiversity, and reducing them by at least $500 billion per year (ie fossil fuel subsidies)
  • Increased financial resources for projects that address these targets from all sources to at least $200 billion per year

The global push to immediately address our biodiversity crisis must be acted upon if we want to save the human species. The US may not end up being a signatory on to the Biodiversity Agreement in spring 2022 (believed to be because of our extensive use of glyphosate), but the American people can still be all in on transitioning our toxic monoculture lawns, to biodiverse no mow lawns. 

The United State has 40 million acres of pesticide-covered monoculture yards with no biodiversity. Mowing our grass for 1 hour creates as much carbon emissions as driving 650 miles. This is no longer acceptable. HOAs must adjust bylaws and covenants quickly.

No mow biodiversity yard in Carrboro, NC. 
The entire community was designed to maximize biodiversity with all yards being biodiverse no mow.

The following are two essential books that will help readers understand the science behind the importance of transitioning our yards to biodiverse no mow:

Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy, 2007

Nature’s Best Hope by Douglas W. Tallamy, 2020

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

✦ By Noreen Wise, Founder & CEO Gallant Gold Media, Founder & Executive Director Climate Action NOW,  author and climate journalist