Rural Road Verge Links

Whilst looking on the internet I found evidence for a lot of UK projects on management and on surveys of rural road verges. If you are interested in this happening in your local area, have a look to see if there is one ongoing that you can contribute too as they always need volunteers, or perhaps see if you can persuade your local council or wildlife trust/environmental charity to run one. [Do bear in mind that charities have virtually no money/time to do anything that they haven’t received a grant to do – same with councils frankly, as far as I can see.]

One thing that has been very clear to me from looking at all these links is the importance of surveying road verges first so what grows there is accurately recorded, and then maintaining an up-to-date and accessible GIS database of information on biodiverse road-verges; then the right management can be applied.

Here’s what I found (not an exhaustive list, merely one to give a ideas on what has worked plus some inspiration) and in no particular order: –

Plantlife show a number of initiatives on a map http://plantlife.love-wildflowers.org.uk/roadvergecampaign/whats-happening-near-you  with some inspiring stories http://plantlife.love-wildflowers.org.uk/roadvergecampaign/inspiring-stories and their document on how road verges can be managed http://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/our-work/publications/good-verge-guide-different-approach-managing-our-waysides-and-verges

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust have carried out a very large set of road verge surveys that have resulted in the designation of 146 new Local Wildlife Sites on road verges http://www.lincstrust.org.uk/what-we-do/wildflower-meadows/life-on-the-verge and the maps of the results are very clear too. The main website on that project here http://www.lifeontheverge.org.uk/index.php . The County Council have been looking into harvesting verge biomass (link is to a text .pdf) https://lincolnshire.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s16218/Harvesting%20Verge%20Biomass.pdf  also more here on the same project http://www.peakhill-associates.co.uk/dt_portfolios/grass-to-biomass/

This is a great overview on the England road verge network for biodiversity with some facts and figures supported by science papers, including management and info about the above Biomass trial – all by Mark Schofield (5MB download with pics .pdf) https://www.cieem.net/data/files/Mark_Schofield_presentation.pdf

Kent Wildlife Trust have had a project identifying, protecting and managing their road verges since 1994 http://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/what-we-do/roadside-nature-reserves

Northumberland Wildlife Trust don’t have a project running but are keen to hear from local people interested in protecting road verges http://www.nwt.org.uk/roadverges

A new project in Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area in Northern Ireland http://dontmowletitgrow.com/ and the funders page https://www.hlf.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/don%E2%80%99t-mow-let-it-grow

The University of Sheffield has a Living Highways Project https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/aps/research/ke/living-highways

Dorset Wildlife Trust are busy doing wildlife surveys of road verges https://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/roadside_verges.html and Dorset County Council are doing management trials https://www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/conservation-verge-trials

Norfolk Wildlife Trust have information about roadside nature reserves in their area here https://www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/wildlife-in-norfolk/roadside-nature-reserves

Life on the Verge – Biosphere Project is happening around Okehampton, Devon  http://www.tarkacountrytrust.org.uk/love-b.html

The Essex Biodiversity Project lists special road-verges in Essex http://www.essexbiodiversity.org.uk/species-and-habitats/roadside-verges

Hampshire County Council say in their county road verges are 3% of the land area! They manage their Road Verge of Ecological Importance (RVEI) according to a set of four designated codes which says when they are cut and there is a marker post inserted on site: there is a .pdf at the bottom of this page (updated 2013) which tells you what they do and where the sites are and who to contact https://www.hants.gov.uk/landplanningandenvironment/environment/biodiversity/informationcentre/roadverges

The North East Nature Partnership gives this list of species from which a road verge would need five present in a 20m stretch to be classed as of conservation importance  http://neenp.org.uk/natural-environment/road-verges-of-conservation-importance-habitat-definition/

The North York Moors National Park have 181 special road verges – a blog here about them https://northyorkmoorsnationalpark.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/living-on-the-edge/ with a cunning use of two wooden pegs to allow a single plant to set seed without getting mown. Nidderdale was also involved https://www.nidderdaleaonb.org.uk/roadside-verges-survey-project . North Duffield Conservation and Local History Society have an informal project going to survey their road verges http://www.ndchs.org.uk/verges.html

Cumbria have special verges amounting to 6% of the total – there’s a downloadable leaflet about  them here with map and details of who to contact about them  https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/eLibrary/Content/Internet/534/38749919.pdf  . This is a website about Orton Parish in Cumbria and Judy Dunford has written about the wildflowers there plus taken pics (I thought this was a great idea) http://www.orton.org.uk/flowers/index.htm

Oxfordshire County Council offer guidance on how to look after and designate road verge nature reserves https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/road-verge-nature-reserves

Wiltshire County Council have this short text .pdf from 2006 with guidelines for selection of protected road verges http://www.wsbrc.org.uk/images/2013/4/PRVSELECTIONCRI.pdf  – not sure if it’s still current. And more information about it here from The Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre   http://www.wsbrc.org.uk/GetInvolved/LongTermProjects/RoadVergeMonitors/EmailForm.aspx  and also that volunteers monitor the road verges too.

Worcestershire County Council coordinate a roadside verge nature reserve project and special verges are marked with posts and an information plaque http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/info/20014/planning/1025/worcestershire_local_sites_partnership/2

Shropshire Council don’t have a scheme as such, but you can get in touch if you want to highlight a road verge in particular and they will manage it as per the Plantlife guidelines https://new.shropshire.gov.uk/environment/biodiversity-ecology-and-planning/wildflower-rich-road-verges/

In 2014 the Borough of Poole changed the way it managed some of its road verges http://www.poole.gov.uk/newsroom/2014-news-archive/may-2014/wildlife-set-to-benefit-across-poole/

This page on the Wales Action Plan for Pollinators has some downloadable slides from talks from Road verge seminars in the bottom right corner (scroll down)  http://www.biodiversitywales.org.uk/Wales-Action-Plan-for-Pollinators Also from the Welsh Government is this short list of things a road verge is for  (not just biodiversity) http://gov.wales/topics/transport/roads/road-maintenance/road-verges/?lang=en

The North Wales Wildlife Trust has a page on their locally important road verges which they manage http://www.northwaleswildlifetrust.org.uk/what-we-do/living-landscapes/living-landscape-projects/road-verges/north-west-road-verges

Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust started a Living Highways project in 2001 which continued until 2014 and are now looking for volunteers to help survey. http://www.montwt.co.uk/what-we-do/living-landscapes/road-verge-nature-reserves

Monmouthshire have produced a handy booklet for highway managers about how to manage road verges for Pollinators (.pdf download with pics) http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/app/uploads/2017/01/Managing-Highway-Verges-for-Pollinators-An-introduction-for-highway-managers-final-draft-18.11.15.pdf  – I would add that pollinators are not the only reason to change verge management but it is very useful info. It does stress the importance of checking with the GIS database first.

Denbighshire County Council have been running management trials and surveys of their road verges http://www.denbighshirecountryside.org.uk/roadside-verges/

Caithness ran a small trial on leaving some road verges longer or giving them a later cut.  http://www.caithnessbiodiversity.org.uk/projects/road-verge-project/

Scottish Natural Heritage – big report on managing road verges for biodiversity (downloadable .pdf) http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/commissioned_reports/551.pdf

The Suffolk Roadside Nature Reserves project  https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/planning-waste-and-environment/suffolks-countryside-and-wildlife/landscape-and-wildlife/ and also their page on general grass-cutting; from the look of their FAQ page more people complain about the grass not being cut than it being cut too often https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roads-pavements-and-verges/trees-grass-and-weeds/grass-cutting/#tab1

Here’s an example of a Habitat Action Plan from 2003 (may be archived now…not sure whether the funding was continued for these Plans at a UK level – from memory I think not) West Sussex Road Verges Habitat Action Plan (it’s a .pdf download) https://www.biodiversitysussex.org.uk/file_download/61/

 

And finally, this is a large literature review commissioned by Natural England in 2014 about transport’s ‘soft estate’ (basically the biodiversity – I’ve had a quick look at the recommendations of the report and there’s a long list of papers cited) – you can download it from here http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/5752930789490688

A quote from the abstract of the above report  “This review investigates two research questions considering: i) how transport soft estate has been used to deliver biodiversity gain, ecological connectivity, and ecosystem services; and ii) how green infrastructure has been used to make the transport network more resilient towards climate change. The results suggest that transport soft estate can deliver biodiversity gains and ecological connectivity, but this is very species and context dependent, with success depending on the management regime. Ecosystem service delivery is very promising with soft estate already delivering a variety of services and with the potential to deliver considerably more.”

IMG_6026

I’m amazed anyone got this far…here’s a bonus photo of Saw-wort growing on a road verge 🙂

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