BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The USDA, the National Wildlife Federation and the Alabama Audubon are promoting “leaving the leaves” this fall season in an effort to supplement earth’s natural cycles and diminish yard debris, which the EPA said makes up 33 million tons of landfill waste each year.

Alabama Audubon’s Science and Conservation Director, Dr. Lianne Koczur, said that more people are now opting to keep their yards more natural, leaving more “wild” areas in them.

“Letting things be a little more wild – having some natural areas and wild areas in your yard – it’s so good,” Koczur said. “It’s so healthy for the insects and for the birds and just for the health of your little piece of land that you get to have. You get to do something really good for wildlife and for nature.”

Koczur said the autumn leaves, when left behind, can provide a place for butterflies and moths to grow. In turn, she said the bugs provide food and nutrition to birds.

“Leaves are a free and natural mulch,” Koczur said. “You can put them under your shrubs and trees and plants, and it’s going to protect them from the cold temperatures over the winter. They are going to naturally decompose and put all those nutrients back into the ground.”

Koczur also said creatures such as newts and frogs can use the leaves as a blanket in the cold winter months. 

A free printable “Leave the leaves” poster from the wild seed project is available here.