Another University of New Orleans native plant garden has been designated by the Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans (NPIGNO) as a certified habitat. The designation recognizes the University for preserving and promoting the state's natural heritage via native plant gardens which benefit wildlife and natural ecosystems.
The certification also earned UNO the designation of being the New Orleans area’s 100th certified habitat. The program’s milestone and UNO’s certification will be marked during a 9 a.m. ceremony at the Amphitheater garden on July 6.
“We are so pleased to have the UNO native plant gardens as our 100th New Orleans area certified habitat,” said Tammany Baumgarten, president of NPIGNO and of the Louisiana Native Plant Society. “UNO reaches such a wide range of people, from students to faculty to staff to community members, and it is truly becoming a showcase for the beauty and benefits of native plants.”
Earlier this year, Chris Belser, assistant professor in the UNO counselor education program, and a team of students installed the fourth native plant garden on campus at the Amphitheater near the Earl K. Long Library, an area heavily used by students, faculty and staff. The student team, led by Emily Miller, Arden Kleinpeter and Genesis Santiago, researched plants, mapped the garden design, and recruited volunteers for planting and maintenance work.
“Gardens like the one at the Amphitheater benefit native birds, insects, and other wildlife, and they benefit humans too," said Belser. "Many studies have demonstrated that time outside in nature makes us healthier mentally and physically. We're adding signage to provide tips to encourage 'unplugged' outdoor lunches, breathing exercises, and other easy ways to enjoy and enhance time spent in the UNO native plant gardens.”
The amphitheater garden is part of an overall sustainability project spearheaded by Belser and funded by an internal grant from UNO's Office of Research. His project is part of a larger campus greening effort and is the third Louisiana Certified Habitat on campus. UNO’s first certified habitat was part of a privateer pocket park installed at the Administration Building. The second certified habitat was part of a privateer pocket park installed near the Fine Arts Building.
These pocket parks have native plants, environmental art painted by students and seating to encourage the campus to enjoy nature. Privateer pocket parks were implemented by Carol Lunn, assistant vice president for research and economic development at the UNO Office of Research and UNO Garden Club adviser.