Roadside verges across Leicestershire are receiving a biodiversity boost thanks to a county council initiative to turn them into wildflower areas.
Over 40 parishes have already signed up for the scheme which involves volunteers giving up their time to make a difference by weeding, sowing seeds and developing new wildflower verges in their communities.
Around 97% of Britain’s wildflower meadows have been lost in the last century and Leicestershire County Council is now looking for more villages and towns to join its green scheme which is a key part of its wider work to tackle climate change and its commitment to becoming a net zero county by 2045.
Creating and restoring more natural verges and reducing grass cutting across Leicestershire is an important part of the council’s work to conserve our natural environment.
These verges provide valuable habitat for a diverse variety of wildlife and plant species in the county, as well as being a vital refuge for pollinators like bumblebees and butterflies. We hope to work with more parishes on this initiative in the future.Person:Councillor Blake Pain, cabinet member for the environment and the green agenda
To protect the natural habitat and allow the wildflowers to bloom and flourish, these verges are generally not mowed between April and August. This year the county saw its highest number of designated wildflower verges - over 54 verges, which is about the size of two standard football pitches. There were also over 330 species recorded through NatureSpot, which is a Leicestershire based charity aimed at increasing public awareness of local wildlife and biodiversity.
Expressions of interest are now open for local parishes and communities who would like to create additional wildflower verges in 2022. Residents interested in joining the scheme can contact the council’s environment team at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be eligible, the verge must be owned and managed by the county council to qualify, and not obstruct any road markings. Full guidance will be provided throughout the application process and a free online introductory session will also be held in October.
To find out more about grass cutting in Leicestershire, visit: https://www.leicestershire.gov.uk/popular-now/grass-cutting
Key statistics and findings from the 2021 wildflower verge survey include the following:
54 Leicestershire verges surveyed by NatureSpot volunteers.
18 volunteers contributed 335 hours.
339 species (across 26 different wildlife groups).
1937 wildlife records deposited.
172 different wildflower species recorded.
30 different grass species recorded.