Wild flowers 'under attack' from council verge regimes


Flowers along grass verges are 'under attack' from over-zealous local authority cutting regimes, charity Plantlife has warned.

According to the charity, 33 wayside flowers are threatened with extinction - and roadside verges now makes up twice as much grassland as the countryside at approximately 238,000 hectares.

But a survey by Plantlife revealed 75% of councils responding to the charity said they cut verges multiple times over the spring and summer, with not a single respondent collecting cuttings as part of routine management.

The result is that flowers are being cut before they seed and energy can be returned to the rootstock, and then smothered by cuttings, which adds nutrients. However, only wild flowers thrive on poor soil - only nettles, docks and coarse grasses benefit from the current regimes.

Plantlife spokesman, Andy Byfield, said the right management would create an 'invaluable' haven for wildlife and provide an essential pollinator for bees. It also believes that verges offer the best wildlife corridor to let animals and plants survive in an intensively-managed landscape.

'It is almost ironic that the way we manage our road verges now encourages coarse and thuggish plants. Mown verges, smothered in cuttings, might as well be strips of green concrete.'

As a way of highlighting the issue, the charity claimed that only two roads in Devon and Cornwall - the A30 and A38 - were responsile for 430 hectares of flowers, and at only one junction, more than 1,100 greater butterfly orchids.

Local authorities claim road safety issues can result from a lack of verge maintenance, as vehicles are forced to move towards the centre of the road, and cyclists are endangered too.

The charity has not requested a lack of verge management though, merely more measured approaches to cuttings, it claimed.

Images of over-zealous cutting regimes have been placed on the charity's campaign site, where residents can send it pictures and stories.

Visit the site here

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