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.

Braunton in North Devon the Axe, Yarty and Lim area in East Devon are two of the communities that have taken up the call.

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.

Life on the Verge Project Coordinator at the Biosphere Jo Pullin said: “As well as providing value to wildlife we found that communities have been keen for their verges to look attractive.

“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

Councillor Roger Croad

Councillor Roger Croad

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 .

23 comments on “On the verge of success – communities called on transform verges into wildlife bastions

  1. Georg Lüdecke says:

    Hallo,

    I ganz find the comment from Fran tromanns. The Link ist wrong,??

    Von: Devon County Council
    Gesendet: 13. Juni 2019 14:47:57 MESZ
    An: natur.kst@gmail.com
    Betreff: A new comment from Fran Tromans on “On the verge of success – communities called on transform verges into wildlife bastions”

    Hi georg luedecke

    Fran Tromans has just written a new comment on “On the verge of success – communities called on transform verges into wildlife bastions”. Here is an excerpt:

    I have a small grass verge outside my property. I would like the council to stop cutting this grass. Is that possible?

    Read more,

    Bye

  2. Jane Miller says:

    Wild flowers are banned here in Tavistock, apart from a few small pieces of ground where Tavistock Community Gardens is permitted to plant wild flowers – a radical idea it seems. I asked Highways if they would not mow till late summer a triangle of land where, in April, a beautiful variety of wild flowers grow. It’s along the main road but extends up to 13 metres away from it, with a footpath across the middle. Could Highways just mow a length along the road? The answer: an impolite ‘NO’, and the whole verge devastated at the start of May.

    • david.beasley says:

      Dear Jane, thanks for your message. There is a balance to be made between encouraging biodiversity within our verges on the one hand, and the safety of road users on the other. And we do our best to get that balance right. The exception has to be where clear visibility on the road is critical for people’s safety. Timing of work has to be sensitive to nature, but also preventative to stop vegetation growing to heights that impede the sight of road users. I’ll pass on to our highways team.

    • Estelle Chadwick says:

      I agree about the way verges are mowed -no common sense re Ide Village Road (C50). The edge of the verge does need cutting because of visibility/safety for entrances into the village and properties but not completely.
      I have planted golden rod, apple mint, ox-eyed daises in front of my hedge but could they cut just th edge bordering the road and keeping at bay brambles, suckering hedge shrubs etc. No. Perhaps some fuel and labour costs would be saved with better planning?

  3. Nicky Scott says:

    this is great but there is no link to the step by step guidance where stated and it would be great if we could share this easily on social media?

  4. Amanda Bate says:

    Great to hear such good sense from local councils and conservationists. Not only will money be saved by not constantly cutting & mowing verges all through the summer, but by enabling more creative management and allowing wildflowers and insects in particular to thrive not only are you helping the environment and making the area more attractive. Well done Jo Pullen – keep up the good work.

  5. John Inman says:

    Great to see other than dandelions and cow parsley swamping the verges. Let’s have some more verges on our new housing estates too.

    • Nicky Scott says:

      both dandelions and cowparsley are excellent pollinator plants! dandelions are especially valuable for early emergent bees

  6. Hilary Hassett says:

    There is no link to the download step-by-step guidance document regarding maintaining a verge. I have a Devon Bank outside my house and have been trying to get wild flowers to grow there, but with little success so would be very interested in downloading the document.

  7. georg luedecke says:

    Hallo

    I am from germany, and my dream is to have

    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.
    And your “step-by-step guidance document “.

    2) In, there is no link:
    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: [???????missing link]

    A review of the successes of the Life on the Verge

  8. Fabian King says:

    Hi, fantastic news and such a relief from seeing so many sterile, strimmed verges.
    Your penultimate paragraph reads
    “you can download free step-by-step guidance document which includes
    information on mandatory health and safety training here: ….”
    but there is no link.

    Could you please email me with the download link below, please?

  9. Steve Bloomfield says:

    This is a great initiative. Not only will it attract more insects and birds it also brightens up many people’s journeys with colourful wild flowers on what were sometimes boring dull verges.

    Well done

  10. jonathan rose says:

    Hello, This is a great way to help our world, in these doom and gloom scenarios of climate change as a town councillor I would be interested in doing our bit in our area.

  11. Richard Pearse says:

    This is excellent work and I have shared it with Bovey Town Council and with What’s on Bovey Tracey to make residents aware – I fully support this.

  12. Rob Weston says:

    Please can you insert the link – this is an excellent initiative…

    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: WHERE????

  13. Colin Pape says:

    What a wonderful initiative. How about Sannerville Way, Exminster? A suitable location I would have thought. I would be happy to be involved.

  14. Alison Jones says:

    I think this is brilliant! I’ve recently moved into a new build house and am trying to attract birds into the area and bees and butterflies with the planting in the garden. Garden birds are very scarce and a lot of land has been lost to building.

  15. Claire Benians says:

    This is all great but you need to rewind all the flowery verges in Devon and not just a chosen few

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