Roadside Verges are an extremely valuable refuge for wildlife (if managed correctly). Unfortunately, many councils are cutting verges almost every month, wasting time, money and devastating wildlife populations. If you're interested in trying to persuade your local MP/Council to change this, allowing their verges to turn into valuable wildlife corridors for all walks of life, then the template email below is for you! Just add your name at the end and whoever you're sending it to at the top.
Dear your council/mp,
Firstly, I hope you’re well (and COVID hasn’t been making you too depressed).
I’m sending you this because I’d like to propose some changes in the way our roadside verges and green spaces generally are managed. These changes, when adopted by other councils (e.g. Dorset and Lincolnshire) have boasted many social, economic, and environmental benefits, and few negatives.
They stem from the charity Plantlife’s management guidelines on roadside verges (https://www.plantlife.org.uk/application/files/3315/7063/5411/Managing_grassland_road_verges_Singles.pdf ) built on the principle of ‘cut less and remove the cuttings’.
Overtime, this turns the usual monocultures of short turf into strips of wildflower meadow, a habitat which we’ve lost 97% of since the 1930s, devastating pollinator and wildflower populations.
Cutting would (ideally) be reduced from the current 10-12 full cuts annually to 1-3, with the arisings removed following each cut (or piled up at the back of the verge).
Done correctly, the ‘new’ verges will provide a buffer to noise, air and even water pollution, contributing to government pollution and land restoration targets for 2040. For example, if implemented nationwide they’d singlehandedly achieve 40% of vital government land restoration targets for 2040.
They’d also provide ecosystem benefits, be fantastic for wildlife, and stop the unnecessary bleeding of time and money it takes to sustain the current management plan. To give perspective, Dorset council saved £350,000 after just five years of implementing these changes, even making money from the cuttings (e.g. as nutritious livestock fodder).
If changes aren’t made, air and noise pollution will be an increasingly greater problem, wildlife populations will continue to decline, overall affecting the public. Not to mention the obvious economic snags of continuing under the current plan, which is wasting money in an economic recession.
However, I would like to make it clear that I am not proposing every green space to be abandoned to messy, waist-high weeds dangling over roads. As fantastic as that’d be for wildlife, it’s not feasible, especially on junctions etc, where visibility and safety are vital.
So, I highly recommend that you/relevant persons implement the changes proposed in Plantlife’s management guide. It can be tailored to the people/place in question, and there are many ways of making it both aesthetically pleasing, practical, whilst still having benefits (for example, by framing a verge, or removing cuttings altogether, slowing the growth) but there are too many to list here, so please at least consider implementing some of these changes. It probably seems daunting, but the rewards are well worth it-as shown in Dorset and Lincolnshire.
Thank-you for taking the time to read this and I hope at the very least you consider making these changes-for all our sakes.
All the best,
If you get any responses/feedback or would like to know what else you can do, please get in touch and I'll help you out to the best of my abilities.
Thank-you for reading, and good luck!