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Somerville goes native in new plantings on city-owned land

Somerville recently set minimum standards for the percentage of native species that will be included in future plantings on its municipal lands.

Under a newly adopted ordinance, native species must constitute 100 percent of new plantings on city-owned land on the Community Path, the Green Line Extension corridor, and riverfront areas; at least 75 percent of new plantings in city parks; and at least 50 percent of street trees and new plantings in areas of rainwater runoff, plazas, streetscapes, and certain other types of city-owned property.

The rules, approved in March, are subject to certain exemptions. Officials said they believe Somerville is the first city in the nation to adopt a policy that sets specific percentage requirements for native species.


Officials noted that plants — and native species in particular ― play a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems because they provide food and habitat for native wildlife and pollinators like birds and insects.

John Laidler can be reached at