Road verges are proving to be a haven for threatened wildflowers and pollinators. But all too often, these vital habitats are being needlessly cut down by local authorities, robbing bees and insects of a source of nectar and pollen.
Charity Plantlife, which launched its Road Verge Campaign 2015, carried out a study which found that Britain’s road verges are home to 703 species of wild plants: that’s more than any other part of our landscape.
And 87 of these species are “threatened with extinction or heading that way,” it says.
The Plantlife report said: “Much of Britain’s road verges are still being cut down in full flower, threatening the wildlife that depends on them.
“Many councils started cutting verges too early in the year for flowers to be able to set seed, and greatly reducing one of the most important food banks for our ailing bees and other pollinators.”
The study found that 21 of the nation’s 25 favourite wildflowers grow on road verges, including cowslip, bluebells and ox-eye daisy.
Plantlife’s Dr Trevor Dines said over 97 per cent of meadows had been destroyed in England since the 1930s.
Dr Dines explained: “In many areas, rural road verges are the last remaining stretches of natural habitat for our wildlife.
“Road safety is the priority, but we know that verges can be managed better for wildlife while remaining safe for motorists.
“This means adopting changes to management, like a delay in cutting to let seed set – so wildflowers thrive.”
Plantlife has produced guidelines and is asking gardeners to sign a petition urging local councils to adopt them. Go to www.plantlife.org.uk for details.