Our beloved American landscape is an intricate patchwork of lands and waters that provide homes for our wildlife. Protecting these habitats has always been integral to the National Wildlife Federation’s work. In 1972, the Federation launched its first major program for habitat conservation, calling on Americans to support the creation of an area that would protect our nation’s most iconic species—the bald eagle. While the bald eagle has since recovered, many species' habitats still need our help.

To thrive, wildlife need unspoiled spaces where they can access food, water, cover, and places to raise young. But due to increasing changes to our country’s landscape, habitats are being altered, polluted, and fragmented. In order to recover wildlife populations, we must protect, restore, and connect habitats across our great country—and for some species, beyond our borders—to support wildlife for future generations.

The National Wildlife Federation's current work with refuges, parks, wild areas, private lands, forests, wetlands, grasslands, waters, and coasts is vital to supporting fish and wildlife populations. We are also focused on strategies for protected areas, working lands, and communities to expand, enhance, and connect crucial habitats on these landscapes.

Protecting Our Coasts

Our coastal areas are under constant strain from pollution and development pressure. They also face new challenges brought on by climate change, including sea level rise, ocean warming, and acidification. The National Wildlife Federation and our partners are restoring the coastal wetlands of the Mississippi River Delta and the Gulf of Mexico, and strengthening coastal resilience along the Atlantic Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Through guidance, policy advocacy, and on-the-ground projects, we will expand the use of nature-based coastal features. With everyone’s help, we can manage coastal ecosystems in ways that reduce the impacts of climate change and other coastal hazards.

Connecting Wildlife Habitats

Scientists agree that conserving and restoring linkages among habitat areas, as wildlife corridors do, is key to enabling plants, fish, and other animals to spread and produce more healthy populations. These linked habitats are essential for species to adapt to longer-term shifts in climate.

The National Wildlife Federation currently works to connect habitats for bison, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears in the West through our Adopt a Wildlife Acre program. We're also raising awareness and building safe pathways for mountain lions in California's urbanized landscape through the Save LA Cougars campaign. Additionally, we work to connect wildlife habitats in the Northeast through the Critical Paths Project. The National Wildlife Federation has bold plans to expand work connecting habitats for wildlife by 2021.

Grassroots Programs to Restore Habitats

For more than 50 years, the National Wildlife Federation has engaged people and communities through on-the-ground programs designed to create and restore wildlife habitats. Our signature Garden for Wildlife™ program educates individuals, schools, and communities on how to provide the basic elements needed for a healthy habitat, and certify their habitats through our Certified Wildlife Habitat® program.

Another program, the National Wildlife Federation's Trees for Wildlife™, offers opportunities to learn about and plant trees in local communities. To date we have close to 300,000 Certified Wildlife Habitats® and have planted thousands of trees.

Stopping Development on Floodplains

Floodplains provide essential habitat for wildlife. However floodplains rarely receive the protection they deserve because they are prime building locations. Development along river corridors has significantly altered floodplain functions and has led to extensive loss of fish and wildlife habitat. The National Wildlife Federation works to strengthen floodplain protections at the local, state, and federal levels to stop the allowance of harmful new development in critical flood hazard areas.

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Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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Regional Centers and Affiliates