What’s Going On Here?

The coronavirus lockdown has meant that councils haven’t mowed roadside verges and mini-meadows have been left to bloom all across the UK!

What Does This Mean?

One in five of wildflowers in the UK are now endangered and 97% of meadows have disappeared since the 1930s. Roadside verges are a stretch of hope for Britain’s increasingly depleting wildlife habitats. They form a massive 238,000 hectares of potential meadow land, compared to just 85,000 hectares of surviving species-rich grassland, but their potential is usually cut back each spring when local councils mow the roadsides before they have a chance to flower and seed.

Later this summer, we will get a glimpse of what could be as verges are left to grow and declining bee populations enjoy a bumper crop of blooms.

Why Should We Care?

Meadows are biodiversity hotspots and support life on many levels. Forming nearly 45% of the UK’s flora, these rich ecosystems are home to insects from butterflies to beetles. They provide food for small animals and birds, and play a crucial role in the survival of bees. On top of that, their strong root systems can help mitigate flooding and rich warm soils store more carbon than regular grass.

We already know that connecting with nature lifts our moods, releasing endorphins in our brains, so it’s no surprise that more people have turned to wildlife watching for peace and respite in recent weeks. And as birds re-enter urban spaces and shy moles and stoats are spotted out and about, there certainly have been some spectacles to witness.The question on a lot of people’s minds is – how do we make sure that the short-term gains noticed during this time will continue going forward post-lockdown?

Ditching the mower saves councils time, money and emissions. Dublin City Council announced last week they’re now ‘wilding’ grasslands in parks, open spaces, and roadside verges – so what are we waiting for?

Be Curious!

A grassroots wilding movement has been making tracks and people have lots of ideas for how to improve biodiversity in our public spaces. Here are a few actions that you can take during lockdown:

  • Go on a wildflower hunt – How many species can you spot on your daily walk? Join the Botanical Societies Wildflower Hunt and send in your plant data through their app. Try to remember their names and distinguishing features so that you can teach others.
  • Support Plantlife’s Road Verge Campaign – Plantlife have collected 80,000 signatures and have commitments from 9 different councils to protect our roadside verges. Help them keep the momentum going and make sure your name is on the list!
  • Stop mowing your lawn – Did you know the average sized British lawn with eight dandelion flowers per square metre produces sufficient nectar to support over 15,000 bee visits per day? If you have a garden, you can help improve the biodiversity in your local area – how cool is that?
  • Guerilla garden with wildflower bombs – Spread bee-attracting native wildflowers in your local area. You can try making flower bombs at home, or get them online from non-profit Seedball.

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