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Britain’s road verges and public urban green spaces cover an area the size of Wiltshire, larger than Gwynned and more than half the size of Dumfries and Galloway [1,2]. If managed with sympathy for grassland wildlife, they can be the vital habitat network that nature’s recovery needs.
Our road verges and green spaces have the potential to act as a sanctuary for wildflowers and a network of connective corridors across Great Britain’s 400,000 km of public road verges and almost 85,000 hectares of public green spaces .
By unlocking their potential, road verges and green spaces have an important part to play in nature’s recovery, whilst delivering benefits for climate, people and reducing asset management costs.
We want to empower and support communities, local authorities, and national agencies in seeing and seizing new opportunities and overcoming any barriers to achieving cost and carbon reduction, while bringing wildflowers back.
Continue reading for more information, resources and case studies – to inspire the systemic change to verge and green space management our wildlife desperately needs.
Over 700 species of wildflowers grow on verges, accounting for nearly 45% of the UK’s total plant diversity, including 87 species threatened with extinction. Species-rich grasslands are vital habitats, however, they are under threat and increasingly fragmented. Approximately, 97% of wildflower-rich grassland has likely been lost across England and Wales since the 1930’s [3,4] and extensive losses have occurred across Scotland,  making grasslands amongst the most threatened habitats in Britain .
With the right roadside management, we can significantly enhance the ecological value of grassland over an area equal to Britain’s existing priority grasslands . This will be an essential element in the delivery of the nature networks across the UK.
More and better-connected grassland green spaces, richer in biodiversity, will create functional wildlife corridors, support pollinators, and provide health and wellbeing benefits for local communities.
Changing the cutting regime of road verges can reduce the costs of managing them. For example, Dorset Council has reduced their verge mowing budget by 45% over 7 years by collecting cuttings which reduces fertility and regrowth overtime. 
Managing verges and green spaces as wildflower-rich grassland is a nature-based solution to climate change. Studies suggest that by increasing plant diversity, carbon stored in grassland soil can be increased by as much as 10% in verges currently mown frequently .
Having a closer connection with nature has been shown to bring real improvements to our physical and mental health [9,10,11,12]. For many of us, a flash of colour on a road verge as we commute into work may be our only view of wildlife that day. If we’re lucky, a walk along a local park lane might allow us to see our first springtime Cowslips (Primula veris), or the sight of a favourite clump of orchids or butterflies feeding from knapweed. These connections with nature are important and significantly boost our wellbeing.
Air Quality and Flood Prevention:
We can also create a cleaner environment to live in. Nature-friendly management of road verges and green spaces can:
Plantlife’s road verge and green space work has been generously supported by The Garfield Weston Foundation and MW Tops Wildlife Conservation Project
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