Managing road verges for wildlife
Increasing biodiversity is a goal of the Mayor's Transport Strategy. We want to help existing wildflowers in our grass verges to grow and produce new flowers - this will supply nectar and other food resources, plus shelter for wildlife including bees, butterflies, birds and small mammals.
Over time the variety of plant life will increase, helping to support even more wildlife species.
What we're doing
In 2019 we tried changing the number of times we cut the grass along two red routes to twice a year, in April and September. This was to allow wildflowers to grow.
We also removed grass cuttings from the full width of the verge. Removing the grass clippings helps the wildflowers by gradually reducing soil nutrient levels, giving them a chance to outcompete the grasses that normally dominate when soil nutrient levels are higher.
At the same time we cut the first metre of verge back from the carriageway more regularly to keep long grass from encroaching on roads or pavements.
Where this is happening
Our first trial was held on:
- A406 Redbridge roundabout to the M11 in Redbridge
- A40 from Target roundabout westwards to the London boundary in Hillingdon
The trial proved successful - the number of wildflowers increased in the trial areas. We will continue this in both areas while we look for more sites to do trials in 2020.
With 165 hectares of grassed verge on our road network, we could potentially increase biodiversity levels across London.
Find out more about the importance of roadside verges for wildlife on the Plantlife website.