Many of our members are concerned about the mowing regime applied to our roadside verges by Monmouthshire County Council. Although some lanes have been left uncut, other lanes were cut very early this year. My own single-track lane has just been cut (at the end of July). This could be reasonable but the verges had already been cut back in May, ensuring that many spring flowers, including Bluebells, Primroses and Cowslips, did not have a chance to seed. Furthermore, the ground was severely scraped in places and had been showing little sign of recovery before it was scraped again in July. Of course, the early cutting does not just restrict the plants’ abilities to seed. There is the loss of flowers providing nectar for bees and other insects, loss of specific plants on which many insects feed, and loss of cover for fledgling birds.
Some of the best flower-rich verges in Monmouthshire are marked with white posts to mark the start and finish of stretches that need special treatment and should be left until late August or September. In these areas, it is important that the cuttings are raked off rather than mulched. Raking off prevents enrichment and invasion by Cocksfoot, False Oat Grass, Nettles and Hogweed, which thrive on enrichment.
If you are concerned about the verges in Monmouthshire, here are some things that you can do:
- Let the council know. You can do so through the Road Verge Campaign that is being run by Plantlife. You can access the campaign through their website: www.plantlife.org.uk/roadvergecampaign You will see that things do not have to be the way they are in at least parts of Monmouthshire. Case studies show that some councils are concerned to manage their road verges for wildlife and do so sensitively and effectively.
- Volunteer to adopt a verge near you and to rake off the grass after it has been cut.
- Let us know if you have identified an interesting, flower-rich road-verge that has not been marked with white posts already so that these can be marked up.
If you try to make a difference to the way verges near you are managed, let us know what you are doing and how you get on.