Reduce cutting our roadside verges for wildlife

  • by: Harry Munt
  • recipient: Hampshire County Council

British wildlife is in trouble. 41% of our species have declined since the 1970s, even the ones we see everyday. House Sparrows for example, which we've now lost over 21,400,000 of since the 1970s:

Invertebrates have been hit especially hard, and are declining eight times faster than mammals, birds and reptiles, due to loss of wildflower-rich habitat.

97% of wildflower meadows in Britain have disappeared under lawn-mowers and strimmers since the 1980s, but recently Plantlife, Natural England, Highways England and other organisations created a guide explaining how to put some of them back.

The guide explains how roadside verges, currently either cut excessively, even outside of the growing season, or abandoned to scrub, can easily be managed in a way that turns them into biodiverse strips of wildflowers.

If implemented nationwide, roadside verges could support almost 50% of all our flora species. They'd work towards government targets for the environment, single-handedly achieving 40% of the land restoration targets for 2040. They'd act as buffers to noise, air and water pollution, carbon sinks slowing climate change, and wildlife corridors, linking up habitats and providing vital food sources and shelter.

Recently, Dorset County Council took the plunge and followed these guidelines. Now, the council has saved over £350,000 from cutting less, and one of their roadside verges incredibly is home to half of all Britain's butterfly species.

With all these benefits, I'd love to see my own Council, Hampshire County Council follow suit, to do their bit for wildlife.

After personally campaigning for this with various MPs and Councils within the county, it's clear that the primary reason it isn't happening is because not many people are asking for it to happen.

So please, if you work/study/live in Hampshire, urge the county council to adopt these simple new management guidelines, creating a network of healthy, biodiverse roadside (Please enter the address that you study/work at if you're not a resident, as if you don't/put an address from outside of hampshire, your signature won't be counted.)

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