[permaculture] Roadside verges 'last refuge for wild flowers' - BBC News
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Sat Jun 6 15:49:56 EDT 2015
Science & Environment
Roadside verges 'last refuge for wild flowers'
By Helen Briggs BBC Environment correspondent
- 6 June 2015
- From the section Science & Environment
More than 700 species of wild plants - almost half of the native flora of
the British Isles - are found on road verges, according to a study.
Many plants once found in meadows now only thrive beside roads, where they
provide essential habitat for insects, says charity Plantlife International
But it says one in 10 of the plants is at risk of extinction, in part
because councils cut verges too early.
Local authorities say shorter verges are safer for drivers and pedestrians.
Dr Trevor Dines, botanical specialist for the charity, said more than 97%
of meadows had been destroyed in England since the 1930s, with road verges
becoming the last stretches of natural habitat for wildlife such as bees
and other insects.
Road verges can be a haven for wild plants like cow parsley
"Most of our farmland is now hostile to many of our wild plants and other
wildlife due to the loss of wild flower meadows and the use of herbicides
and fertilisers," he told BBC News.
"The roadside verges are often the last refuge for wild flowers and the
wildlife there depends on them.
"It's almost as if plants have been squeezed out of farmland and now
they're being squeezed out of road verges from bad management."
The Local Government Association has said keeping road verges
well-maintained means motorists have a good line of sight and allows
pedestrians to walk more safely alongside busy roads.
Full flower Around one in ten of these wild plants is threatened with
Plantlife International says road verges are of particular importance to
rare plants such as Deptford pink, tower mustard and spiked rampion.
They also act as wildlife corridors and provide pollen and nectar for bees,
butterflies and moths.
The wild plant conservation charity says many of Britain's road verges are
being cut down in full flower threatening the wildflowers and the wildlife
that depends on them.
It is calling on members of the public to sign a petition urging councils
to do more to enhance the wildlife value of road verges.
Its management principles for road verges include:
- Allowing plants to complete their full life cycle, ie to grow, flower
and set seed
- Removing grass cuttings
- Allowing flowers to return over time as they spread naturally.
Dr Dines added: "If we just give them a chance, wildflowers can return."
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