Nature's Best Hope

A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard


By Douglas W. Tallamy

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“Tallamy lays out all you need to know to participate in one of the great conservation projects of our time. Read it and get started!” —Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction

Douglas W. Tallamy’s first book, Bringing Nature Home, awakened thousands of readers to an urgent situation: wildlife populations are in decline because the native plants they depend on are fast disappearing. His solution? Plant more natives. In this new book, Tallamy takes the next step and outlines his vision for a grassroots approach to conservation. Nature’s Best Hope shows how homeowners everywhere can turn their yards into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats. Because this approach relies on the initiatives of private individuals, it is immune from the whims of government policy. Even more important, it’s practical, effective, and easy—you will walk away with specific suggestions you can incorporate into your own yard.

If you’re concerned about doing something good for the environment, Nature’s Best Hope is the blueprint you need. By acting now, you can help preserve our precious wildlife—and the planet—for future generations.



in 1903, with the state of arizona on the verge of mining the Grand Canyon, President Theodore Roosevelt stood on the canyon’s lip, gazed out over its unique magnificence, and uttered the five words that would save it: “Leave it as it is.” Unfortunately, because only 5 percent of the land in the lower forty-eight United States is now in anything close to a pristine, self-sustaining ecological condition, we’ve lost the opportunity to save most of our country from such development. Ninety-five percent of the country has been logged, tilled, drained, grazed, paved, or otherwise developed. Our rivers have been straightened and dammed (damned?), and several no longer reach the sea. Our air has been polluted, our aquifers pumped nearly dry, and our climate changed for centuries to come. We have purposefully imported thousands of species of plants, insects, and diseases from other lands, which have decimated many native plant communities on which local food webs depend, and we have carved the natural world into tiny remnants, each too small and too isolated to support the variety of species required to sustain the ecosystems that support us.

I could go on, but this is not a book about the pox we have delivered upon the environment and thus upon all of our houses. It is a book about a cure for that pox—a cure that will require small efforts by many people but that will deliver enormous physical, psychological, and environmental benefits to all. This may sound like hyperbole, but we have learned that restoring the natural world benefits not only other species, but Homo sapiens as well, in ways no one imagined only a few years ago.

Despite the current political climate, I believe we are on the cusp of a new environmental ethic, one that will (must) be adopted, not just in “blue states,” but in “red states” as well; not just in the United States, but worldwide; not just by tree-hugging environmentalists, but by everyone. It is quite possible that historians will call the coming decades “The Age of Ecological Enlightenment.” I am not a soothsayer or a visionary; I am an ecologist who makes this claim with confidence, because it is the only option left for Homo sapiens if we want to remain viable in the future. In his 1949 conservation classic, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold wrote, “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” He was referring to our emotional connection to the natural world, a connection that fewer and fewer people seem to have these days. The message I have tried to convey in this book is that, whether we like nature or not, none of us will be able to live for long in a world without it.

I have found that most people fall into one of three groups: they like plants, they like animals, or they like neither. I have attempted to address all three groups in this book. My goal is to convince people that we will lose most of our plants if we lose most of our animals, and we will lose all of those animals if we don’t take care of our plants. For people who don’t care for or about the flora and fauna around them, the hardest group of all to engage, I have also done my best to explain why we will lose humans if we don’t preserve the plants and animals that keep our ecosystems healthy and sustaining.

We haven’t always thought about our individual impacts on the local environment, and consequently those impacts have been negative more often than not. Today, however, we must develop a new mindfulness about how our everyday actions affect the physical and living world around us. In this book I argue that we can no longer tolerate actions that degrade our local environment; there are simply too many of us for the earth to sustain the cumulative impact. A neutral impact is not good enough, either, for we no longer have the option of leaving things in their current degraded state. We must now act collectively to put our ecosystems back together again. What is needed is nothing less than a cultural transformation: rather than acting as if we were independent of nature, we need to behave a little more reverently or respectfully toward nature, as if we were the product and beneficiary of a vibrant natural world, rather than its master.

Today most people live in what I call the great suburban/urban matrix, and we hardly interact with the natural world. Unfortunately, our ignorance of nature has led to a dangerous indifference about its fate. The local disappearance of once-common plants and animals does not bother us because we have grown up with no knowledge of these species, and we cannot imagine why they are important to us. We do not teach our children that plants and animals actually generate the life support systems we all require. Plants produce our oxygen, clean our water, and delay its journey to the salty sea. They store atmospheric carbon that would otherwise wreak even more havoc with our climate. Plants build our topsoil and hold it in place, and they prevent floods when we leave enough of them in our landscapes. Animals, in turn, provide pest control services and pollinate not just our crops but nearly 90 percent of all plant species. We are living off of the ecological interest that was generated by a healthy ecological bank account long ago, but we are eating up the principal of that account at a steady and alarming rate. Agriculture lands, cities, and the vast suburban tracts that surround them have replaced natural areas in so many places that not enough nature remains to generate the natural capital on which our lives depend.

Gardening is like cooking. It is tempting to cook only with the goal of achieving great taste, with no thought of healthy eating, but that often results in tasty concoctions so full of fat, sugar, and salt that they are deadly in the long run. Similarly, it is tempting to garden only for beauty, without regard to the many ecological roles our landscapes must perform. All too often, such narrow gardening goals result in a landscape so low in ecological function that it drains the vitality from the surrounding ecosystem.

Think for a moment about your own yard. If you are a typical homeowner east of the Mississippi River, about 90 percent of your landscape is lawn, and your yard contains only 10 percent of the tree biomass that it supported before your house was built. When choosing plants for your landscape, you considered only their decorative value, and you chose the same few species that your neighbors and their neighbors chose. You gave no thought to the many roles your plants could play within your local ecosystem if they were contributing members of that ecosystem. So 80 percent of the plants in your yard are species that evolved in Asia, Europe, or South America—species that are unable to support the complex food webs necessary to sustain ecosystem function in your area. When you look out your window, nothing moves. This does not bother you because you grew up in a house with a yard in which nothing moved; you think a yard with no animal life is normal—after all, animals belong in nature, and nature is someplace else. What’s more, your civic or homeowner association has passed rules suggesting that building landscapes that do not support wildlife is good land stewardship.

Now put on your ecological thinking cap. If your property does not generate all of the ecosystem services you and your family need to live well, you will have to borrow services that were generated somewhere else. Chances are your neighbor’s yard looks just like yours and is just as biologically depauperate (lacking in numbers or varieties of species), so you will not be borrowing ecosystem services from your neighbor. Your township’s open spaces have most likely been converted to soccer and baseball fields or vast expanses of lawn with paved tracks encircling them for joggers and dog walkers, so you will not be borrowing ecosystem services from your public spaces either. In the past, residents lived off the services generated from the diverse ecosystems that surrounded a town or city, but those ecosystems have shrunk in size, diversity, and effectiveness by the day. So where will you get what you absolutely need to live in the coming years?

Many people are surprised to learn that former President Richard Nixon understood the limits to the amount of abuse our natural resources could endure. In his 1970 State of the Union address, he said, “We can no longer afford to consider air and water common property, free to be abused by anyone without regard to the consequences. Instead, we should begin now to treat them as scarce resources, which we are no more free to contaminate than we are free to throw garbage into our neighbor’s yard.” In this book I will argue that this sentiment now applies not just to human waste, but to ecological contamination as well.

Just as we are not free to throw garbage into our neighbor’s yard, we are no longer free to release countless propagules of invasive species onto our neighbor’s landscape. We are no longer free to flood our neighbors with stormwater that our huge lawns cannot absorb; nor are we free to deplete our neighbor’s aquifer by watering our thirsty grass. None of us has the right to destroy the diversity of life that once thrived on our properties—life that is required to run the ecosystems that keep us and our neighbors alive. We do not have the right to starve local pollinator species by removing the native flowers on which they depend. We do not have the right to heat up our neighbor’s airspace by cutting down the trees on our property, nor do we have the right to change our neighbor’s climate by pumping carbon dioxide into the air when we mow our lawns. In short, we no longer have the right to ignore the stewardship responsibilities attached to land ownership. Our privately owned land and the ecosystems upon it are essential to everyone’s well-being, not just our own. Abusing land anywhere has negative ramifications for people everywhere. unesco, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, designates biosphere reserves as places of ecological significance. But clearly this is misleading, for all places have ecological significance, not just the few places we have not yet destroyed. In short, gardening in the traditional sense is optional, but earth stewardship is not.

Nixon’s vision for a sustainable relationship with the natural world was remarkable for its clarity and wisdom, and its ecological implications went far beyond the obvious need to protect our air and water. Nevertheless, the notion that the earth and its natural resources are not infinite and must be managed wisely (by everyone) for the greater good must have been ahead of its time, because it was largely ignored. In many ways, our cultural relationship with the environment has improved little since the 1970s, and there is a growing sense of alarm among the general public, even if most of us still struggle to articulate it. Lucky for us, the ecological Armageddon we have been so blindly encouraging is largely reversible if we simply adopt a new relationship with nature. We can save the natural world—and ourselves, for we are part of it and it is an inextricable and essential part of us—if we stop segregating ourselves from nature and learn to live as a part of it. We must shrug off our age-old adversarial relationship with nature, the “nature versus us” attitude that may have worked for our ancestors but is deadly to us now. We must be wary, very wary, of claims that all of our needs in the future will be met by technology, that we no longer require natural systems and the interrelationships that they comprise, and that the loss of other species is not only inevitable, but a good thing because it signals the arrival of the Anthropocene, an age when all of the earth’s resources will be usurped for human needs. Finally, we must accept the new reality that how each one of us treats our local biological heritage impacts not just ourselves but our entire community.

As far as we know, the only complex life forms anywhere in the universe, and certainly the only ones you and I will ever interact with, occur in a thin film surrounding the earth—the biosphere. We have boldly assigned ownership to this unique combination of water, organic molecules, and biologically favorable weather: Tom owns this part, Dick owns that part, Harry owns the part over there, and Mary owns the parcel down the street. So be it; but along with this ownership comes the responsibility of stewarding the only known life in the universe, which is perhaps the most awesome responsibility of all. In the coming pages, I have tried to personalize our conservation challenges and our responsibility to meet them. One of my central messages is that effective conservation is not beyond the reach of the individual; indeed, it is your efforts as an individual that will determine whether we succeed or fail, and whether we live in a world thriving with life or in one in which little stirs.

In short, this book is about fixing problems. The good news is that we can fix our ecological problems by indulging rather than sacrificing. It has been very difficult to address environmental issues by asking people to give up something—their suv, clothes dryer, sirloin steak, or the idea of having a third, fourth, or fifth child—in order to gain the long-term benefits from good health, a moderate climate, clean air and water, and life-sustaining ecosystems. These are certainly real benefits; they are essential, in fact, to a modest quality of life. But even if we behave well today we won’t realize these benefits until sometime down the road, around life’s next corner, in that nebulous uncertainty we call the future.

And therein lies the problem. Humans are not genetically programmed to care about the future. Yes, we care about tomorrow, but not as much as today. Next week? Maybe, but next year? Ten years from now? Thirty years from now? No way. Throughout our evolutionary history, those of us who worried about meeting our immediate needs were more successful than those who planned and allocated resources for a future that we often never realized. So in this book I will not be asking for sacrifices that will build a better world later on. I will suggest actions that heal our damaged landscapes right now, actions that create immediate, short-term gains for humans. That such actions will also deliver long-term ecological benefits is just icing on the cake, as important as that icing is. In the world I envision, landscaping practices will no longer degrade local ecosystems; landscaping will become synonymous with ecological restoration. We will not be living with less; we will be enriching our lives with more—more pollination services; more free pest control; more carbon safely tucked away in the soil; more rainwater held on and within land for our use in a clean and fresh state; more bluebirds, orioles, and pileated woodpeckers in our yards; more swallowtails and monarchs sipping nectar from our flowers. Indeed, more species of all kinds will inhabit our landscapes, increasing the stability and productivity of our ecosystems. This proactive approach to earth stewardship will no longer be the unfulfilled dream of a few environmentalists, but a culturally embraced imperative, not only because we have no other choice, but because it works. It is nature’s, and thus humanity’s, best hope.


The Dreamers

Conservation biology . . . [is] a discipline with a deadline.


many visionaries have recognized that humans do not have a sustainable relationship with the natural world that supports them, and they have worked or continue to work to improve that relationship. Conservation pioneers who immediately come to mind are George Perkins Marsh, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Muir, who helped create our system of national parks, monuments, and preserves; those who organized the public sector of our national environmental movement, such as Edward Abbey and David Brower; courageous people such as Rachel Carson and James Hansen, who employed modern science to expose environmental threats from big business; science writers such as Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert, who have dedicated their careers to bringing critical conservation messages to the public; and countless others who have practiced conservation successfully at the state and local levels, but who will never receive the recognition they deserve. Among all of these dedicated people are two of the most respected giants in the world of conservation: Aldo Leopold and Edward O. Wilson. They stand above the rest, particularly for me, because the many unique insights in their writings stimulated my own ideas and inspired me to write this book.


On 11 January 1887, in Burlington, Iowa, a small town on the banks of the Mississippi River, Rand Aldo Leopold entered the world he would come to love so passionately (Meine 2010). He was born with an innate interest in all things wild. Although he was guided by his parents, he needed little encouragement to become a naturalist, forester, wildlife biologist, professor, restoration ecologist, author, philosopher, and perhaps the most influential conservationist of the twentieth century.

Aldo Leopold was fascinated with the natural world; wherever he traveled, he habitually recorded the seasonal cycles of the plants, birds, and other animals he saw, as well as the climate cycles that influenced them. In fact, what distinguished Leopold from other naturalists of his day was his interest in how members of a community interacted with one another and the physical world they inhabited. Today we would call Leopold a systems biologist; he was well ahead of his time, and he recognized and was intrigued by the complexities of ecosystems decades before the term was even coined.

But like Teddy Roosevelt before him, Aldo Leopold’s early relationship with nature was somewhat schizophrenic. In Leopold’s day, the most common introduction to wild things came through hunting, and that is how his father first exposed him. Not long before young Aldo took his first foray into the woods, hunting was considered more a necessity than a sport, and the notion that wildlife existed to be hunted was deeply rooted in his culture. The fledgling field of wildlife management consisted of shooting as many wolves, cougars, and bears as possible to encourage growth of populations of the deer, moose, and elk that hunters pursued. After all, predators were thought to compete with the needs of hunters and therefore ought to be eliminated. One of the primary responsibilities in his first job as a forester in the U.S. Southwest was to kill as many predators as he could—and he was good at it. Perhaps the most ironic aspect of Leopold’s life was that it was he who shot and killed one of the very last Mexican gray wolves in the United States.

Aldo Leopold is often considered the father of modern conservation.

But it was also Leopold who first recognized the results of such carnage. In what would much later be termed “trophic cascades” (Hairston et al. 1960), Leopold saw that when top predators were eliminated from an ecosystem, the herbivore populations they once kept in check exploded (despite hunting pressure) and the vegetation that supported the entire ecosystem became disastrously overbrowsed. This, in turn, led to starvation and disease for the very species predator removal was supposed to be helping, as well as for myriad other species that depended on healthy plant communities. In a stark departure from accepted wildlife management protocol, Leopold suggested that members of the top trophic level—the predators—were essential to the well-being of the trophic levels beneath them—the smaller predators, herbivores, and particularly the first trophic level, the plants that fed them all. Removing wolves, cougars, and bears created an imbalance in the energy flow through an ecosystem that cascaded down to the plants, and the ecosystem collapsed to a paltry remnant of its former abundance and diversity.

Some hunters still protest when Leopold’s advice is heeded and top predators are protected, but nearly a century of research has proven him correct. From starfish in tidal pools of the Pacific Northwest, to sea otters off the California Coast, to the overabundance of white-tailed deer in the predator-free East, as well as dozens of other examples from around the globe, studies have shown that top predators are not simply desirable members of a community but are essential to the sustainability of their ecosystem.

The far-reaching impacts of removing top predators from an ecosystem came into focus more clearly than ever before when wolves were returned to the Yellowstone ecosystem in 1995, some seventy years after they had been exterminated (Stolzenburg 2008). In just a few years, Yellowstone’s wolves reduced the moose and elk populations, eliminating overbrowsing by the herbivores, and caused a truly remarkable recovery of other species, including the bison with which exploding populations of moose and elk had been competing; beavers and all of the species associated with the stream and wetland ecosystems they create; grizzly bears, bald eagles, and ravens that depend on wolf kills for scavenging; six species of song birds that breed in restored streamside vegetation; and, of course, the all-important willow, aspen, and cottonwood populations upon which all of these species depend. Never had Aldo’s foresight been so dramatically demonstrated, but it was forty-seven years too late for him to enjoy himself.

Leopold’s recognition of the importance of predators and the trophic cascades that result from their removal was only his first contribution toward tempering humanity’s relationship with the natural world. In 1924 he was transferred from New Mexico to Madison, Wisconsin, where he soon joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin, but not before he had written a management plan for New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, which that year had become the country’s first official wilderness area. He would flourish at Wisconsin, becoming the first chair of a new program in game management, writing the first and arguably most famous textbook on wildlife management, and founding The Wilderness Society. Despite his successes, he was deeply disturbed by what he saw in the environment around him.

In almost every way, people were destroying the natural world and the coevolved associations that glued it together. Society’s relationship with what he famously called “the land” was not a relationship at all, but a unidirectional exploitation of resources that returned nothing. Farmers overworked the soil in ways that encouraged catastrophic erosion, grasslands were severely overgrazed nearly everywhere, rivers were treated as sewage receptacles and garbage dumps, marshes and prairie potholes were drained or filled, and what remained of virgin grasslands was plowed under. Repeated clearcutting and burning transformed majestic forests into wastelands, and wildlife was slaughtered so often and in such numbers that many species were extirpated from Wisconsin. The sandhill crane, which Leopold revered as the symbol of the untamed past, was hunted relentlessly, and by the time he moved to Wisconsin, only a few cranes remained in the far north.

But Aldo Leopold had a dream. He dreamt of a time when people humbly accepted their roles as citizens of the natural world rather than its conquerors, a time when the land was not viewed as a commodity to be exploited but as the source of our continued existence. He longed for a time when people appreciated and even respected wilderness, not just as a hunting or recreational playground, but as a truly awesome and unimaginably complex machine that required all of its parts to function well.

These ideas, these hopes, and these dreams didn’t come to Leopold overnight; they came from a lifetime of thoughtful observation, reflection, and informal experimentation. In 1935, his family bought a degraded tract of land in the Central Sand Plains of eastern Wisconsin. Once a poorly managed farm, the eighty acres were barren scrub that supported little life when the family bought it. Leopold built a small summer home he fondly called “the shack,” and for the next thirteen years the family restored the ecological integrity of their tiny piece of the world. Through trial and error, they learned how to bring life back to their land by rebuilding prairie, savannah, and marshland where it had once been. Leopold painstakingly recorded the rapid return of the wild things he loved and was so encouraged by the success of the restoration that he wrote his masterpiece, A Sand County Almanac, with hopes of inspiring a new land ethic that would transform how people viewed and interacted with nature (1949). He viewed conservation as a state of harmony between people and land and foreshadowed the concept of environmental sustainability when he stated, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” On Easter Sunday 1969, twenty-one years after Leopold died of an untimely heart attack, sandhill cranes returned to the marshes of his property, an event that still brings tears to my eyes each time I think about it.

Remarkably, A Sand County Almanac was rejected by several publishers before being accepted for publication by Oxford University Press the week Leopold died. Though it sold slowly at first, it eventually became wildly popular, and today more than two million copies have been printed in fourteen languages. Most people agree with Leopold that we need to adopt a land ethic that respects and protects all members and aspects of nature in harmony with the needs of people. The Aldo Leopold Foundation, founded in 1982 by his wife, Estelle, and their five children, fosters his concept of the land ethic through education and a celebration of the man himself. Yet, as I look around, I wonder where I see this land ethic in practice? Oh yes, there have been great strides in the environmental movement since Leopold died in 1948, and much of the credit for these necessary changes goes to him. Powerful organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, as well as smaller land conservancies around the country, have protected many wild places beyond our national parks and wilderness areas. In the United States, legislation in the 1970s, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, have noticeably curbed point source pollution, while the Endangered Species Act created a national recognition that extinction at the hand of humans is not OK.

Nevertheless, we cling to the notion that nature should be saved where nature remains, not where humans work, live, farm, or play. Though persuasive and moving, Aldo’s plea for a land ethic has thus far been unable to change the nearly universal belief that people are here and nature is somewhere else. And this is where philosophical musings about conservation have run head-on into the brick wall of the earth’s finite size and resources. The ecosphere, the frighteningly thin zone at the earth’s surface to which life is constrained, is not getting any bigger. There is no more land today than there was 600,000 years ago when Homo erectus


  • “Doug Tallamy lays out all you need to know to participate in one of the great conservation projects of our time. Read it and get started!” —Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction

    “Tallamy is one of the most original and persuasive present-day authors on conservation.” —Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

    “Doug Tallamy is a quiet revolutionary and a hero of our time, taking back the future one yard at a time. In Nature’s Best Hope, he shows how each of us can help turn our cities, towns and world into engines of biodiversity and human health.”—Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and Our Wild Calling
    “Here is one area where individual action really can help make up for all that government fails to do: your backyard can provide the margin to keep species alive. Mow less, think more!”—Bill McKibben, author of Falter

    “Tallamy is a key contributor to the explosive leap in public understanding of the impact of humans on the natural world and how we can repair the damage we cause.”—Grandy Drummer
    “Tallamy shows how to transform yards into ecological wonderlands full of vibrant life. Your local birds, butterflies, and plants will thank you for learning from his wise advice.”—David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen, Pulitzer finalist, and The Songs of Trees
    “This is a handbook for not only transforming your own yard, but for talking to your neighbors, the teachers in the paved schoolyard next door, and your town councilors about connecting one green haven to another to build wildlife corridors that become, as Tallamy puts it, a Homegrown National Park.”—Anne Raver, award-winning columnist and author of Deep in the Green
    “A clarion call to go native: acting locally in your yard or neighborhood and thinking globally about the biodiversity crisis.”—Scott Freeman, author of Saving Tarboo Creek
    “Doug Tallamy’s inspiring vision of a human landscape capable of supporting a wondrous diversity of life is powerfully articulated in Nature’s Best Hope.”Rick Darke, landscape designer, lecturer, photographer, and coauthor of Gardens of the High Line

    “A revelatory guide whose application can begin just outside our doors.” Booklist

    “Tallamy provides answers in a down-to-earth, personalized style…this is an essential addition to most gardening collections.” Library Journal

    Nature’s Best Hope advocates not just a horticultural revolution, but a cultural one, bridging the human-dominated landscape and the natural world.” Smithsonian Magazine

    “An inspiring and necessary book…Tallamy is so important in today’s ecological efforts…everyone can (and should) read his writings.” —The Garden Club of America

    “An outstanding book, full of deep insights, and practical advice.” —Dennis Liu, Ph.D., Vice President for Education, EO Wilson Biodiversity Foundation

    “A full-blown manifesto that calls for the radical rethinking of the American residential landscape, starting with the lawn.” —The Washington Post

    “If you’d like to turn your own little postage stamp of native soil into a conservation effort, Nature’s Best Hope, is a great place to begin.” New York Times

    Nature’s Best Hope isn’t just what we can do with boots on the ground; it’s about fighting for a changed cultural mindset. We can experience the health, wellness, and resiliency of life if we’re willing to embrace all of the messy complications that make this world worth experiencing in all its wild promise.”The American Gardener

    “In a world full of doom and gloom, Dr. Tallamy's latest book is an uplifting and empowering guide to how each and every one of us can be part of the conservation movement and it all starts with native plants.” —In Defense of Plants

    “To support conservation efforts, you need look no farther than your own backyard… Nature’s Best Hope offers practical tips for creating habitat that protects and nurtures nature.” —National Geographic

    “Even a single person acting boldly with [Tallamy’s] goal in mind could be a crucial source of inspiration for others around them.” —Associated Press

    “If you’re concerned about doing something good for the environment, Nature’s Best Hope is the blueprint you need. By acting now, you can help preserve our precious wildlife—and the planet—for future generations.” —Hockessin Community News

    Nature’s Best Hope helps us to understand the urgency we all should and must have as we try to make a difference to our ever-changing planet.” —Nature Revisited

    “An essential read for those concerned with the fate of planet Earth and its creatures.” —Connecticut Gardener

    Nature’s Best Hope is a message for every land owner, renter, property manager, container gardener, government planner and administrator: You have a vital role to play in the survival of biodiversity on this planet!” —The Press of Atlantic City

    “Here’s a read that does something critically important. It restores hope by giving us normal mortals something we can do.” —Smokey Mountain News

    “Nature's best hope—is all of us.” —Yakima Herald

    “Become part of Tallamy’s army of gardeners converting yards and wasted spaces of America into Homegrown National Park.” —Wyoming Tribune Eagle

    “An important book about the urgent importance of planting natives…eye-opening and transformative.” —The Sun-Sentinel

    “A new and inspiring vision of what could be achieved if concerned individuals join together to transform the common attitudes and practices that have shaped our own backyards.” —Maine Home Garden News

    “Tallamy strikes the perfect compromise between fear and optimism… a must read for anyone who cares about the future of our environment at both a global and local level.” —Ferns and Feathers

    “The steps to take toward making your garden part of the Homegrown National Park.”—Horticulture 

On Sale
Feb 4, 2020
Page Count
256 pages
Timber Press

Douglas W. Tallamy

Douglas W. Tallamy

About the Author

Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 97 research publications and has taught insect-related courses for 40 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. Among his awards are the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence, the 2018 AHS B. Y. Morrison Communication Award, and the 2019 Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. Doug is author of Bringing Nature Home, Nature’s Best Hope, and The Nature of Oaks; and co-founder with Michelle Alfandari of HOMEGROWN NATIONAL PARK®. Learn more at 

Sarah L. Thomson has written over thirty books for young readers, including poetry, prose, fiction and nonfiction. She lives in Portland, Maine.

Learn more about this author