Managing verges for wildlife

Our roadside verges are sanctuaries for wildflowers, pollinating insects, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. They also provide essential green corridors for which these species disperse. Furthermore, for many people wildflowers on our roadside verges provide an essential personal wellbeing and contribute greatly to their feeling of wellbeing.

Since the 1930’s, 97% of the UK’s wildflower meadows have been lost or modified. This loss of habitat has meant our pollinating insects have suffered steep declines and 87 species of wildflower are threatened with extinction.

Management of our roadside verges is essential. Without careful management, wildflowers on our road verges will be lost and outcompeted by brambles, scrub and vigorous coarse grasses. Devon County Council is encouraging communities to manage verges for wildlife (where safe to do so and not in conflict with health and safety management of verges). Draft guidance can be found here. Please contact us at nature@devon.gov.uk if you have ideas for improving the guidance. We are also looking for verge management case studies and community champions – so please get in touch if you can help.

Flowering roadside hedgebank in Westleigh, North Devon

A number of important verges within the county have been designated by Devon County Council as Special Verges, due to their exceptional wildlife value or their value to communities. Currently, there are 112 Special Verges located right throughout Devon, each one with its own specific survey and management card.

The location of all of Devon’s special verges can be found at Devon County Council’s environmental viewer, under the Ecology/Geology tab. Please email nature@devon.gov.uk if you would like to help manage a special verge or obtain more information (a survey card and management information is available for each).

 

Case studies

Beer Road, Seaton – Management Plan. Produced by the Axe Vale and District Conservation Society, 2015.

North Devon Biosphere’s ‘Life on the Verge’ HLF project began in November 2016 and will be helping local communities to manage verges for wildlife.

Plantlife verge guidance: The conservation organisation Plantlife has produced a guide to verge management which sets out management principles for road verges.