Skip to main content

Plantlife is leading the charge to bring about a systemic change in the way Britain’s road verges are managed, bringing benefits for nature and climate.

Britain’s road verges cover an area the size of Dorset and, if managed appropriately, can create a network of wildflower rich grassland. This is a vital habitat as the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s.

Plantlife’s road verge campaign and our award-winning guidance has inspired communities, highways authorities and contractors to think differently about how road verges are managed. We are now taking the next step and working with others to remove the barriers in place within the current road verge management system that are preventing the widespread adoption of nature-friendly road verge management.

These barriers include issues around the disposal of large quantities of grass cuttings, difficulties in the way road verge maintenance contracts are set up, and insufficient evidence of the economic, nature and climate benefits of changing road verge management.

Plantlife’s research, advocacy and partnership work is making the case that improving the diversity of wildflowers through changes in road verge management can bring the following range of benefits:

  • Biodiversity – our road verges have great potential for species-rich grassland restoration and we can almost double the amount of wildflower-rich verge. Over 700 species of wildflowers could grow on well-managed verges, accounting for nearly 45% of our total plant diversity.
  • Financial – changing the cutting regime of road verges can reduce the costs of managing them. For example, Dorset County Council has reduced their mowing costs by 45% over 5 years because of this change in management.
Cowslips on a road verge
  • Climate – if road verges are managed as wildflower-rich grassland they can act as a nature-based solution to climate change by storing carbon in their soils. Studies suggest improving plant diversity can increase the carbon stored in grassland soil by as much as 10%.
  • Green energy – by using innovative anaerobic digestion technology, grass cuttings from road verges can be used to produce bioenergy – a form of renewable energy.
  • Wellbeing – A closer connection to nature can bring real improvements to our wellbeing. For many of us, a flash of colour on the way to work, or a walk along a lane can be our first chance to see cowslips, orchids, or butterflies feeding on Knapweed.

Discover our road verge guidance

How to Manage Road Verges and Green Spaces

How to Manage Grass Cuttings

How to Build Community Support

Managing Road Verges

A downloadable guide on creating and managing species-rich grassland of road verges

The Good Verge Guide

Downloadable guide to good verge maintenance

Supported by:

Plantlife’s road verges work has been supported by The Garfield Weston Foundation, Marshall Wace and Rees Jeffrey’s Road Fund.