Create and Certify Your Own Wildlife Habitat

Gardening for wildlife is fun, inexpensive, and an easy way to make a lasting impact for wildlife

Tennessee Wildlife Federation is committed to wildlife habitat conservation, big and small.

So, we’ve partnered with National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to help you create a wildlife haven in your own yard—whether you have a rolling rural property, a tiny urban lot, or a container garden on your balcony.

But you don’t have to stop at home. You can even take on certifying your school, your church, or even your entire community—just like Knoxville did.

After all, 90 percent of Tennessee’s land is in private hands. That means providing the basics for our diverse wildlife is up to you!

Every Certified Wildlife Habitat provides wildlife the essentials


Native plants provide food eaten by a variety of wildlife. Feeders can supplement natural food sources. To certify, your habitat needs just three food sources, such as foliage and pollen from native plants, a bird feeder, and suet.


All animals need water to survive, and some need it for bathing or breeding as well. To certify, your habitat needs at least one water source, such as a stream, bird bath, or butterfly puddling area.


Wildlife need places to take shelter from bad weather, hide from predators, or hunt for prey. To certify, your habitat needs a minimum of two places to find shelter, such as dense shrubs, a brush pile, or a wooded area.

Places to Raise Young

Wildlife needs resources to reproduce as well as to protect and nourish their young. To certify, your habitat needs at least two places wildlife can raise young, such as a nesting box, mature trees, or a thicket.

Sustainable Practices

Maintain your yard or garden in natural ways to ensure soil, air, and water stay healthy and clean. To certify, you need to use at least two sustainable practices, such as soil and water conservation, controlling exotic species, and organic maintenance methods.

With the help of Tony Lance, our resident naturalist, ornithologist and gardening guru, you can put your commitment to conservation in action. When we each do our part, we can keep Tennessee the most biologically diverse inland state in the country.

The application processing fee is just $20 and you’ll receive a certificate to designate your newly Certified Wildlife Habitat. You’ll also receive exclusive NWF member benefits while supporting conservation statewide.

Meet Tony

Previously a naturalist for the Nashville Park system, Tony Lance joined the Federation in 2011. A longtime birder and beekeeper, Tony is most at home being outdoors hiking and backpacking. In 1999, he checked a major goal off his “bucket list” by completing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Tony has a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Certified Wildlife Habitat Sign

Photo credits (from top to bottom): Lucy Banks, Cal Calloway, Joann McBee, Ricky McCulley, Priscilla Morris, Linda B. Poole