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Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,431 ratings  ·  286 reviews
Douglas W. Tallamy’s first book, Bringing Nature Home, sparked a national conversation about the link between healthy local ecosystems and human well-being. In Nature's Best Hope, he takes the next step and outlines his vision for a grassroots, home-grown approach to conservation. 

Nature's Best Hope advocates for homeowners everywhere to turn their yards into conservation
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Timber Press (first published 2019)
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Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
My thanks to NetGalley and Timber Press for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

I was hoping more for each chapter to be "step X, do this", with the chapter then delving into what to do and how to do it. What I got was that information integrated into a mini history lesson (which basically talked about how humans suck and ruined things) and then some stories of how the ideas to fix things were implemented by others. No real "how to" with a step by step guide, it was interwoven into the
Alicia Bayer
Nov 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I loved this book as I started to read it because the author made a convincing point that our wild places like parks are no longer enough to sustain nature and that we must learn to adapt our yards to be a large, somewhat connected habitat for the birds (and thus, bugs that feed them) and pollinators and other wildlife that we need, and we need to stock them with native plants or they're worthless. Tallamy argues well that lawns are a horrible waste of resources and space, and that we need nativ ...more
Tonstant Weader
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is so easy to be pessimistic about our planet’s future when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is vowing to criminalize climate change boycotts and “radical protests” and Trump withdraws from the Paris Climate Agreement. Bees are dying and butterflies are disappearing and our recycling is ending up in landfills. So, reading Nature’s Best Hope was a breath of fresh air. Tallamy doesn’t just tell us the problem, he tells us what we can do, how to do it, and assures us that we can make a d ...more
Paul Norwood
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
There are some interesting points made in the book: most of them are best laid out in chapters ten and eleven, where we are given better information and some interesting ideas, along with a summary of, really, the entire book. This makes me wish the book had opened with those chapters, and collected essays and vignettes related to the different points.

What irked me about this book was the author's condescending, paternalistic, patronizing tone. In the book he speaks not to his audience (which wi
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Nature's Best Hope

by Douglas W. Tallamy

I read the author's earlier book, Bringing Nature Home, about the importance of native plants in the garden, so I was excited to read his latest book on the topic.

In this book, Tallamy continues his efforts to change how we view our private and public spaces by creating "Homegrown National Parks". According to the author 83% of the US is privately owned. Conservation must happen on private property.

Unfortunately, the Endangered Species Act has quite often
Sep 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
I'm already a believer in landscaping with native plants and thinking about how my yard can be a steward for insects and wildlife. I picked up this book looking for new ideas about what more I can do with my corner of the world. Unfortunately, this book reads like a string of angry rants on Facebook, posted after a frustrating conversation with a distant relative and few too many drinks. A book with a title about nature wasn't where I was expecting to read about how the world is full of idiots a ...more
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
If you haven't given much thought to how your yard/ landscaping habits interact with the fate of the planet, this is a great informative introduction. If you HAVE thought a lot about native plants and pollinators and microfauna this book doesn't have a whole lot new to add. It's nicely argued for newbies. The notion of treating your yard as a little slice of National Park conservation is good shorthand for a lot of things he wants to communicate.

But if you are already converted, you don't need
Stephen Hesterberg
Jan 15, 2021 rated it liked it
If you are already evangelized to native plant landscaping, there is not much new to gain here. However, it is a good book to help spread the gospel to those around you who express interest in gardening and our environment.

Reading the book from an ecologists perspective though brings about a harsher critique. Tallamy’s argument centers on land-use change by private homeowners to stem our extinction crisis. However, he only flirts with scholarly work here, selectively providing citations in some
Nicole Wagner
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm a left leaning, college educated, middle class mom of two. It goes without saying that I'm concerned about environmental wellness and climate change.

This book's appeal is in its accessibility. Its vocabulary and scope make it clear that it was written by a career conservationist, but the author is firm on his main point: conservation belongs to each and every one of us who owns property. He backs up this point with down-to-earth science describing conservation success in terms of an area's
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, own, nature
Thank you to Timber Press for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I am, by and large, a reader primarily of fiction. However, every now and then I like to dip my toes into some nonfiction, particularly that surrounding topics of interest to me. I especially love reading new releases in my "field." (My degree is in wildlife conservation.)

That being said you don't need a degree to incorporate conservation into your own backyard, and you don't need one to read this accessibl
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gardening
I agree with Tallamy's premise. I will implement several of his suggestions, and was appropriately stung by some of his commentary. However, I found that the ratio of preachiness to information was too high.

"You want a lawn! I totally understand. I understand that you might want to satisfy your social obligations and that your lawn is how you like to compare yourself to your neighbors! Totally get that you'd want to justify your existence with some grass, even if it destroys that natural world!
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Doug Tallamy is my hero!
The Wildlife Center of Virginia
Our book clubbers really liked this book - overall found it very informational and inspirational. Some members are ready to rip up their lawn! ...more
Wendy Wagner
Jul 30, 2020 rated it liked it
No particularly new information to me, but I love the concept of Homegrown National Park. I really hope it catches on!
The patio behind my new apartment is kind of depressing right now. Most of it is paving stones being slowly pushed up by the roots of a nearby maple tree. But I have big plans. Well, vague plans. I'd like something private and green year-round, but it also needs to be wildlife-friendly. Save the bees! After reading this book, my plans are now a little less vague, and I have a clearer idea of what to aim for. I've also been encouraged that I can have a wildlife-friendly space even if it is a mini ...more
A great book! I wish everyone would read it.
Jun 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-ish
Nothing Wrong with this, but it's not really a New approach, and I chose it expecting something different. Biodiversity, native plants, wildlife corridors, leave the leaves, reduce the lawn... the usual. His tone early on was very condescending, stating that his readers probably had cookie cutter yards and constantly worried about impressing the neighbors, but this obnoxiousness eased up as the book moved forward. I did find his descriptions of the very limited ranges of some insects interesting ...more
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very good call for backyard ecology and using native plants. Would be nice to find more suggestions for the dry Western States.
Cheryl Gatling
If you plant it, they will come. That is, if you plant native trees and shrubs, insects that make caterpillars will eat their leaves. Then birds will come to eat the caterpillars, and biodiversity will flourish, and life, including human life, will thrive. If you plant introduced species, the native insects and birds, who have not developed a relationship with those plants, will not eat them. They will move away, or die. Remove enough species of plant, insect, and animal, and the complex ecologi ...more
Mark Hartzer
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The crux of this book is contained in the sub heading: "A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard". Tallamy presents a simple, yet wonderful idea: each of us can help create a "Homegrown National Park". In a nutshell, homeowners can turn their own yards into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats. No, this is not like Yellowstone, but instead created by individuals in their own homes. If we as homeowners plant for diversity, we can help do something good for the envi ...more
Feb 09, 2021 rated it liked it
Highly recommended if you are new to the idea of conservation and how to turn your backyard into wildlife habitat while still enjoying your yard. This book will you a brief overview of conservation in the US- covering Aldo Leopold and E. O. Wilson. Then it reviews easier attempts at conservation and shows their success and failures. And, then the author shows you how to approach your environment - whether you a have a lot or ten acres. Or even if you have a city balcony. This book is full of bea ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another great book!

In Bringing Nature Home, Douglas W. Tallamy discusses importance of planting native plants that feed many insect species. He gives us an introduction to specific plant and insect families. Without this foundation, vertebrates like birds, amphibians and mammals won’t have the resources they need to survive.

Nature’s Best Hope adds ecosystem-level Biology into the mix. We discover the big picture and learn how organisms work together to form functional food webs. The overarching
Joseph Montuori
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
The thrust of this book is that humanity has so overrun the planet that nature’s best hope lies in the native plants we should use to recreate our back yards. It’s a smart and well-articulated argument, along with some specific resources and steps everyone can take.

He calls for a “Homegrown National Park,” an informally-organized network of ecologically healthy backyards that can support more biodiverse ecosystems around the planet. There is apparently no plan, no network, and no organization t
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It drug in the first half, but It delivered hardcore in the end. I’m inspired, I’m ready to keep doing research for what works in my region, and I’m excited to get started helping out the critters.
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While this didn’t have the impact on me that Bringing Nature Home did (likely only because I read Bringing Nature Home first), this is another excellent book on the value of native plants by Tallamy. Tallamy’s first book focused on the value of specific species of trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs to birds and caterpillars, while the focus of this book is to usher in a new way of thinking about conservation— to bring it in from somewhere “out there” to our own front and back yards.

I love this me
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Nature's Best Hope: An Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas Tallamy was a book that taught me so darn much y'all! I didn't really have any expectations going in, but I was intrigued by the summary. What I quickly found was that I was this was a call to action grounded in so much important information about the world around me. The premise of the book is that the answers to curre
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I didn't expect to be thrilled by this book. But Tallamy delivers a highly persuasive argument for returning our yards to native plants, with eye-widening data on how many caterpillar or other insect species oaks, blueberries, asters, etc, support, and then even more amazing data on how many caterpillars, etc., a pair of nesting birds requires every day to feed their young. You can do the math yourself to see what it costs the bird population in your neighborhood when you plant only non-native s ...more
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book that explains what humans have been doing wrong since the beginning of time regarding nature, the ecosystem, and the overall detrimental effect it has had on everything from insects, plants, birds, and mammals. His book certainly describes a different way of thinking regarding conservation. It has been the ruthless approach by humans that has caused the extinction of many living beings. Is there hope? Yes, certainly, but it requires a different way of doing things.

- We need to sh
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Clear, thoughtful, and hopeful, this book does a great job explaining how private citizens can work to strengthen our natural world and rebuild functioning ecosystems. I like how the author gives big-picture information, but then simplifies it to say, "Let's focus our efforts on helping caterpillars and bees (and here's how and why)."

I learned a lot of fascinating new information here, too. For instance:

- I had no idea how important caterpillars are to ecosystems. Did you know that a lot of song
Catherine Hicks
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who has a yard or even just a patio or deck where planting is possible.
Douglas W. Tallamy lays out in shocking detail the problems we have created for the environment, much of it through lack of knowledge. This book provides some compelling facts about the importance of encouraging insects, bees, and native plants, many of which we mistakenly call weeds, to provide pollination and the nutrition that birds and ultimately human beings need to survive on this earth. He explains why invasive plants are so destructive. Tallamy optimistically places the beginning of a so ...more
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Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 88 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 36 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interaction ...more

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“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.” 1 likes
“in 1620, when the pilgrims landed at what is now Provincetown at the lower tip of Cape Cod, they found the potable water they had been looking for, but they also found a near continuous span of well-spaced mature trees. By the early 1800s, however, the entire cape had been clearcut for settlement and sheep herding, with nary a tree remaining.” 0 likes
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