Much of the UK’s flowering meadows have disappeared from our countryside in recent years but there is one surprising oasis of wildflowers remaining – roadside verges.
Almost half of the UK’s flora can be found growing on roadside verges, providing food for the bees, butterflies, birds and bugs that help support other wildlife. Road verges also provide important connectivity for insects, birds, mammals and plants, especially in towns and cities where they act as corridors to join our parks, gardens and the wider countryside.
But road verges have themselves come pressure. Concerns about safety and access, budget constraints, a desire for ‘neatness’ and difficulties with the collection of litter and grass clippings have made their wildlife value a low priority for many councils.
Managed in the right way, verges and the wildlife they support can flourish. This can mean mowing later and less frequently to allow wildflowers to set seed, among other things.
The nature charity Plantlife has done great work campaigning for rural road verges to be managed for nature, recently helping Hampshire County Council to revamp its management of rural verges across the county.
Now PeCAN wants to bring that message into towns so that it can apply to urban verges as well.
Working with East Hampshire District Council, The Petersfield Society and Alton Climate Action Network, we are looking at ways to help the council identify which of the verges in Petersfield town are suitable for conservation mowing and which must be kept short for traffic safety reasons.
PeCAN briefing paper for EHDC councillors
The Petersfield Society public talk, Valuable Verges
Petersfield Shine radio interview with local ecologist Melanie Oxley