Some of the Cotswolds’ best loved roadside wildflowers, such as the Meadow Cranesbill which are due to flower within the next week, could be lost forever if roadside verge management is not undertaken sympathetically, according to the Cotswolds Conservation Board.
Roadside verges are important to the special character of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as they provide an important habitat for plants, birds, small mammals and insects. They are especially important for wildflowers which range from the appealing and widespread blue Meadow Cranesbill to the nationally rare downy woundwort.
However, maintaining the biodiversity of roadside verges is a careful balancing act. If verges are left uncut, wild flowers will disappear as larger, more aggressive vegetation takes over; but over-enthusiastic cutting, especially when carried out too early in the year, will also reduce the diversity of plants and the insects that depend on them.
The development of scrub and trees on uncut verges can also impact negatively on the landscape, blocking views and changing landscape character altogether.
To try and encourage sympathetic roadside verge management, the Cotswolds Conservation Board has produced a Position Statement aimed at local authorities, providing them with recommended management practices for highways in the AONB.
Mark Connelly, land management officer at the Cotswolds Conservation Board, said: “The Cotswolds contain a network of minor roads, often associated with an abundance of attractive wildflowers which are a very special feature of the AONB. Without effective and good management of these verges, there is a very high risk that some of our most attractive areas for wildflowers could be lost forever.
We have produced our Position Statement in consultations with local authorities and hope that this will help to address this very important issue.”
The Meadow Cranesbill appears in full flower on roadside verges from mid June and into early July, and can be seen throughout the Cotswolds AONB.
Notes to editors:
Cotswolds AONB fact file
- The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is cared for by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation with 37 members, 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by Government.
- The Government has designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks as our finest countryside and they are recognised as being of national importance.
- With its rolling hills and valleys the Cotswolds is the largest of 40 AONBs in England and Wales and is protected to ensure that its beauty and special character are conserved. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
Press contact: Nicola Greaves
Tel: 01451 862003 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cotswolds Conservation Board Fosse Way, Northleach, Gloucestershire GL54 3JH
Tel: 01451 862000 Website: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk