Herefordshire Council and Balfour Beatty have confirmed that they will be reducing verge cutting in some areas of the county in an attempt to benefit wildflowers and natural habitats. They also want to stress that safety will not be put at risk by this.

It’s part of a partnership called Verging on Wild: the Herefordshire road verge campaign with Herefordshire Council, Balfour Beatty Living Places, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and several other wildlife organisations involved.

Road verge flora is deteriorating in many parts of the UK ‚Äď 87 of the verge species are facing possible extinction ‚Äď including favourites like harebell, field scabious and ragged robin. The decline is caused by the way we cut and manage verge habitat and the increasing fertility of roadside soils. Cutting begins in the spring and is repeated in the summer so that few plants have a chance to set seed before the mowers arrive. Summer flowering plants, many of which typify our beautiful hay meadows, are disappearing from our verges.

The result of this mowing regime and the practice of leaving the cut vegetation to rot down in situ, has caused a decline in roadside species and an increase in weed species such as nettles, cow parsley and hogweed. This is bad news for wildflower numbers and diversity. It is also bad for populations of bees, beetles and butterflies that rely on these plants for food, and for the birds that eat these invertebrates.

Plantlife, the UK‚Äôs wild plant conservation body, is behind a national project proposing a new wildlife friendly approach to managing verges. They produce clear verge management guidelines for landowners, local councils and authorities, the gist of which is ‚Äúcut less, cut late”.

In Herefordshire in 2018, three friends decided to take action to improve our local verges and ¬†‚ÄúVerging on Wild‚ÄĚ (VOW) was formed. VOW is now affiliated to Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and working to encourage Herefordshire Council, Parish councils and their contractors to follow the best practice guidelines. Herefordshire Council and Balfour Beatty Living Places are now considering changes to the verge management in Herefordshire.

Read more – Verging on Wild | Herefordshire Wildlife Trust (herefordshirewt.org)