Managing Grassland Verges: A Best-Practice Guide
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This project compiled and disseminated best practice guidance for road verge management and is engaging with highways authorities to support adoption.
Plantlife identified the need for authoritative guidance to support national transport and biodiversity strategies that seek to maximise the natural capital of the soft estate and government ambition for biodiversity net gain. Extensive engagement with industry, highway authorities and wildlife organisations began at a symposium in May 2018 and continued throughout during autumn 2018 and 2019 to share knowledge, agree best practice and develop case studies to tackle key challenges in managing the soft estate.
The project fulfils two key recommendations in the Government’s National Pollinator Strategy, three of the four outcomes in the Action Plan for Pollinators in Wales, two objectives of the Pollinator Strategy for Scotland and two objectives of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. In addition, it supports the recommendations of the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan including nature recovery networks e.g. adoption of the management prescription across the rural road network would create over 50,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat.
Plantlife convened and managed a steering group of skilled professionals from relevant organisations to secure key stakeholder support and endorsement including industry: Kier and Skanska; statutory agencies: Highways England, Transport Scotland, Welsh Government, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage, and NGOs: Plantlife, Butterfly Conservation, the Wildlife Trusts and the Green Infrastructure Partnership.
The resulting guidance, published in September 2019, focuses on the management of lowland and upland grassland verges identified as increasingly important for the conservation of our native flora and the pollinators and other wildlife this supports. The guidance was launched to around 100 key stakeholders at a one-day symposium hosted by the partnership, followed by a national media launch a fortnight later, and subsequently at the Green Party Autumn Conference in October 2019.
The published document supports governments and agencies in delivery of their statutory duties and biodiversity net gain obligations, as well as industries’ corporate social responsibilities to reduce environmental impacts. Adoption of the management guidance will also ensure road verges contribute towards national targets to improve ecological connectivity and improve habitat and species resilience to climate change. In England, this equates to a potential contribution of 111,225 miles of verge habitat, in Scotland 35,000 miles and in Wales 29,000 miles.
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