Protecting the Forest at Ruby Falls
The forest at Ruby Falls has a richly diverse eco-system that includes many native plants. Why are native plants so important to our climate? Besides thriving in the woods without added water or nutrients, native plants restore and maintain health and function to local eco-systems and preserve biodiversity that is often missing in the 40 million+ acres of urban and suburban areas in the United States.
Native plants and their seeds attract a wider range of pollinating assisting creatures that in turn provide a critical source of food and respite for birds. As birds digest the native plant seeds, they become natural gardeners, creating pockets of native plants all through the woods.
The native plants, including flowers, shrubs, and trees, create a layer of vegetation that increases the chance for water to be absorbed by the soil during heavy rain, allowing it to be taken in by the natural watershed instead of running off with the topsoil into flooded storm drains.
The native plants in the woods bring more choices for food and shelter for native birds and wildlife in our area. Did you know that to survive, native birds need native plants and the insects that evolve with them? The National Audubon Society reports that a whopping 96% of terrestrial bird species in North America feed insects to their babies. With the advent and heavy adoption of insect-proof exotic plants, birds will starve without native plants.
Incredibly, the world’s forests store more carbon than what is in the entire atmosphere. Protecting forests with native trees and plants is one of the most effective ways to address global climate change. Forests cover only 30% of the world and are key to much of what we rely on to live, including clean water.
Next time you are at Ruby Falls, take the opportunity to admire the eco-system in the forest with its native plants and trees, hummingbirds and many other bird species, butterflies and beneficial insects in the woods at Ruby Falls. The chorus of chirping birds with their symphony of songs let us know they appreciate the respite they find in the woods at Ruby Falls.
If you’d like to learn more about native plants specific to your home, the National Wildlife Federation has a handy tool you can use that is as easy as entering your zip code. You can find it here.
The National Audubon Society has a similar database of native plants that will attract birds to your specific area. Receive a custom list by entering your zip code here.
To learn more about what else you can discover at Ruby Falls, visit www.rubyfalls.com
Contributed By: Lara Caughman
Photo Credit: Ray Zimmerman