Citizen science Project Monitoring Wild Flower Abundance on Roadside Verges.

Urban road verges are often overlooked when discussing greenspaces. Road verges can contain significant biodiversity, contribute to connectivity between other greenspaces, and improve habitats for native flora and fauna. Also, due to their proximity to road traffic are well placed to reduce carbon footprint and improve air quality. Reduced mowing frequency and alterations can enhance biodiversity, aesthetics and pollination services.

Maximising the contribution of verges to urban biodiversity and ecosystem services becoming an increasingly urgent priority as, globally, road verges currently cover over 270,000 km2, and continually increases with growth of the global road network. As the road network expands and other urban greenspace is lost, the enhancement of all existing greenspace is an ever growing priority.

In response to Richmond Council adopting its Climate Emergency Strategy in 2020, they have significantly reduced how often highway grass verges are cut, with the aim of enhancing the borough’s biodiversity and reducing its carbon footprint.

In response to the strategy, the Council’s Parks Team has explored more environmentally sympathetic ways of working. These include trialling a new maintenance approach for the borough’s highway grass verges to increase biodiversity.

‘Highway grass verges are no longer cut every two to three weeks during the growing season. The new approach allocates the borough’s grass verges to different categories, which will be mown at different frequencies, ranging from monthly during the growing season for some verges, to two or three cuts for other verges, or just one cut per year at the end of the growing season for areas categorised as conservation verges.’

 

In support of the changes of mowing regimes for roadside verges Habitats & Heritage, in partnership with Richmond council, are working on a citizen science scheme to monitor wildflower growth and changes to biodiversity of roadside verges.

Habitats & Heritage are recruiting citizen scientist to take part in a monitoring programme of your local roadside verges. The scheme will include full training and is open to all. If you are interested in becoming a road verge citizen scientist, please get in touch at biodiversity@habitatsandheritage.org.uk

Find out more about Richmond Councils Management of highway grass verges here.

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