Restoration Planting Design: Creating Wildlife Habitat
Every species of wildlife lives in its own characteristic habitat. Within its habitat an animal carries out all of its living-functions: foraging for food and water, seeking cover to hide from predators and the weather, and nesting or denning for reproduction. River Partners tries to think about the spatial arrangement of the plants in their restoration sites so that they provide all of the necessary habitat components wildlife need to live and reproduce. Therefore, River Partners has to first understand what vegetation structures and composition are important to wildlife.
The California Partners in Flight Riparian Bird Conservation Plan is a tool to guide conservation of riparian habitats in California. The plan identifies sixteen “focal species” of riparian birds as important indicators of riparian health and describes detailed habitat structural and floristic requirements of each species. For example, the plan describes the preferred foraging substrates (trees, shrubs, herbaceous) for many birds, as well as the typical height at which birds construct their nests. Through the use of valuable resources such as the Riparian Bird Conservation Plan, River Partners restoration plantings can be designed to create wildlife habitat based on collected data from individual species. Multiple species can be targeted in individual plantings to increase wildlife diversity.
The Riparian Bird Conservation Plan is an excellent source of information about the habitat needs of targeted birds. Additionally, the California Department of Fish and Game created the Wildlife Habitat Relationships (CWHR) database which describes the life history and habitat requirements of all birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that use riparian areas. River Partners restoration designs are influenced by other focal species in the Central Valley such as the Riparian Brush Rabbit, Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle, and anadromous fish.