BiodiverseCity St. Louis
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BiodiverseCity St. Louis is a growing network of organizations and individuals throughout the greater St. Louis region who share a stake in improving quality of life for all through actions that welcome nature into our urban, suburban and rural communities. Learn more about this effort, and join in.

Take Action Today…and Make It Count

Throughout St. Louis, every day, people are making big and small changes to their backyards, balconies, streetscapes, schoolyards, parking lots, and play areas. Some are doing this because they love nature and want to experience more of it in their daily lives. Others recognize that native plants in the right places help prevent flooding, clean and cool our air and improve human health and well-being. Still others embrace the positive impact that leafy streets, accessible parks, hiking/biking trails and other quality green spaces have on property values and the economic vibrancy of our region.

For all these reasons and more, the BiodiverseCitySTL Network invites each of the 2.9 million citizens of the greater St. Louis bi-state region to take action. In this spirit, we are excited to launch the Nature in Our Neighborhoods citizen action project. No matter who you are or where you live, all of us can do something to beautify, bio-diversify and better the communities in which we live, work, learn and play. To get started, check out our curated list of expert ideas and local resources from across our region, connect with others and share your stories.


Community Spotlight

Summer 2021 OYC participants

Meet the Outdoor Youth Corps 2021 Summer Crew!
Outdoor Youth Corps (OYC) is an education and workforce development program of the Missouri Botanical Garden that connects St. Louis city youth to environmental stewardship projects, community engagement opportunities, and potential environmental careers. This program provides career mentorship to participants by introducing them to a wide variety of career paths, training opportunities, and paid work experience. Participating youth learn hands-on skills and gain knowledge related to working in the environmental, horticultural, and conservation fields. Learn more about our 2021 summer crew and the projects they’ve worked on this summer.

Great Reads

Book cover and author photo

The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees
By Douglas W. Tallamy

This guy speaks for bugs and plants, with a gift for reaching people. Fun to read and rooted in entomologist Doug Tallamy’s powerful mix of ecological research, personal experience and native plant advocacy, his newest book celebrates the Quercus clan, featuring one White Oak through a year on his Pennsylvania property. 

Nature chronicles are a story form I enjoy, like Sue Hubbell’s through-the-seasons Ozark beekeeping narrative, A Country Year: Living the Questions . (Yes, I know honeybees are not natives.) Any author I respect and love prompts me to want to know more about her or him, how place and days shape their perspective. 

Nature of Oaks is no semi-memoir, but Tallamy does lace his trove of oak-and-company facts with personal lore. How his father, like most tidy American yard-keepers, annually raked a wealth of oak leaves into giant piles little Doug jumped into, then burned that “leaf litter” – and all the nutrients, insect eggs and pupae, and soil organisms with it. And how patient Tallamy Sr. was tested, setting up a family-sized heavy canvas tent for extended summer camping, with tiny oak caterpillars parachuting down his neck.

If the January chapter’s urgent Insect Apocalypse percentages make you want to run from reading, skip into April for the harrowing saga of cynipid oak gall wasps. The brink of disaster is a place all Earth creatures know, but Tallamy’s way of telling life-and-death as an Earth-normal casts our human destructions in a role with space for us to change. He plays on our species’ fascination with catastrophe, planting us into Nature’s thrilling dramas (as turf-and-chemical villains), and giving us options (science based!) to grow redemption for all: birds, insects, water, soil, us and other animals. In this book, through alliance with mighty Oak trees.

Tallamy’s call to action remains laser-focused: Plant Natives – NOW! This imperative is magnetic, the positive power in all his books, talks and articles. He details huge issues and simultaneously hands us a totally do-able way to make a real difference. 

I always learn something, get some expert guidance from Doug Tallamy, to improve my efforts at ecological landscaping. This time around, I feel proud to have three new species of Oaks in our city yard but I realize we might better have more than one individual of the same species. Though I have loved recommending Tulip Poplar as a fast-growing, sturdy urban-yard shade native tree, I’m redoubling my efforts to push planting OAKS. And I’ve grown the habit of visiting and observing them. 

Tallamy never shies from giving us hard data, but he gives us great stories too. How Oaks evolved marescence, the phenomenon of holding leaves on lower branches through winter, in the era when giant wooly mammoths browsed 20 feet up. How Gypsy Moth, the Destroyer, differs from native moth species and how one human’s silk-production scheme escaped control, disastrously.

In Nature of Oaks, he does it again with towering ecological lore grounded around one genus of trees. Through Tallamy’s words, Oaks invite us to partner with their power, to reverse human wreckage and regrow ecological health. 

Contributed by Jean Ponzi, Green Resources Manager, EarthWays Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden