On the verge of success – communities called on transform verges into wildlife bastions
Posted on: 30 May 2019
A pilot project to help communities revitalize their roadside verges, and by doing so create a network of safe havens for wildflowers and endangered pollinators, has been so successful it has been launched across the county.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) ‘Life on the Verge – Biosphere’ (LoVe-B) project has led to 40 North Devon verges being managed and monitored by communities over the last three years.
More than 100 volunteers have learnt new skills to help them maintain and improve their condition.
Now communities all around Devon are being encouraged to follow suit and take pride in their verges, and by doing so, help the environment.
The Axe Vale and District Conservation Society have been managing Beer Road in Seaton since 2014, while Braunton have started transforming their verges into colourful bastions for wildlife in time for the tourist season.
Roadside verges are an integral part of Devon’s heritage and are sanctuaries for wildflowers, pollinating insects, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals.
They provide one of the only opportunities to see wildflowers daily, often on a commute, and have been shown to have had a positive impact on mental health.
But since the 1930s 97 per cent of the UK’s wildflower meadows have been lost, and as a result our pollinating insects have suffered steep declines.
Roadside verges are one of the few remaining places where our native wildlife can thrive.
The pilot in North Devon, delivered through a partnership of Devon County Council, North Devon Biosphere, Devon Biological Records Centre, North Devon AONB, and hosted by the Tarka Country Trust aimed to help arrest this decline.
“For example, Braunton Parish Council has pledged to manage their verges for wildflowers for people to enjoy, especially during the tourist season.
“For example by managing their grass verges for wildlife Braunton Parish Council are transforming them into vibrant new habitats.
“It’s been a great success. The project has gained a good reputation and has been used as a point of reference with conservation organisations.
“Learning from this project has been shared with Plantlife, Devon Wildlife Trust, The Biosphere Reserve.”
Councillor Liz Spear, Chairman of Braunton Parish Council said: “We’ve committed to revitalising our roadside verges and restoring the diversity of our green spaces.
“It’s part of an ongoing plan to restore the diversity of our flora and fauna, with particular emphasis on reversing the decline of the vast range of pollinators which are the life and blood of our countryside and which we know are under considerable threat.
“We are also auditing deciduous tree loss in the parish over the last 20 years and where possible we will replace them in to help to mitigate pollution, and flash-flooding from the River Caen. Many of these trees will be planted along grass verges.”
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for the
Environment said: “Climate change, road side verges and the health of our pollinators and natural environment are inextricably linked.
“Climate change has impacted the natural rhythms of weather, and pollinators have been affected.
“Well maintained grass verges form corridors for wildlife and are part of the wider landscape conservation measures needed to help protect the environment.”
The Devon Community Action for Wildlife Conference is on Saturday 6 July in Chagford and will to inform community groups on how they can help. For more information, and to book a place, please see www.naturaldevon.org.uk.
If you or your community are interested in helping to maintain a verge in your community you can download free step-by-step guidance document which includes information on mandatory health and safety training, here:
A review of the successes of the Life on the Verge – Biosphere project is being held on Thursday 4 July at 7pm at the Braunton Countryside Centre.
For more information click here .Posted in: Community | DCC Homepage | Environment | Health and Wellbeing