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Fostering Habitat Action through a Biodiversity Awareness Trail (BAT)
A Biodiversity Awareness Trail (BAT) is an interpretive trail with a difference. Hiking and biking are good for you (and the environment). But this trail goes the extra mile to help nature as well. Features along a BAT will inspire you to learn more about nature in your own backyard. They will also provide tools to help you make a difference where you live, work and play. Our first pilot project is planned for Essex County, but we hope to implement several more throughout the Carolinian Life Zone. Help us make this concept a reality!
What is a Biodiversity Awareness Trail (BAT)?
A Biodiversity Awareness Trail (BAT) combines traditional interpretation tools (e.g. signs and brochures) with other features to inspire trail users to undertake new conservation-related activities. These features include native plant gardens, streamside buffer plantings and even art installations made by local artists which inspire onlookers to reflect upon their role in nature.
Streamside plantings like this one along Kingsville's Mill Creek could be a feature of the Biodiversity Awareness Trail planned for Essex.
The trail will foster good stewardship habits and practices through innovative community based social marketing techniques. It will use "Habitat Action" pledges to raise conservation awareness and encourage eco-friendly activities. Planting native plants, removing invasive species and posting messages that encourage a "leave alone" response to frequently harmed snakes are some examples of pledges. In addition, the trail will serve as a hub for engaging groups such as naturalist clubs, youth and even organizations not traditionally involved in conservation (e.g. service clubs).
Walk on the Wild Side …
You might experience something like this hiking on a Biodiversity Awareness Trail: Stepping out onto the trail, you stop at a solar-powered information kiosk. By pressing a button on the display, you listen to interview clips from local elders on their connection to the landscape.
Tree planting along the proposed BAT route.
After a short hike, you arrive at an arboretum. Amongst the trees, you spy bird and bat boxes built by local youth. You wonder if these could work for you at your place. A simple sign directs you to more information: You can either visit the BAT website or simply scan a barcode with your mobile to instantly receive your own set of construction and installation instructions.
A little farther along, you notice a group of students planting native flowers near a stream. They are wearing t-shirts with "Trail Keeper" emblazoned on them. One of them approaches you and enthusiastically asks if you are interested in learning more about growing the types of plants you see here.
Just as you nod "yes", you notice a display nearby with a guide to the top 10 easy-to-grow native sun and shade species. Simply by texting a code, you pledge to try planting some in your own backyard.