A GROUP of conservation volunteers in south Shropshire is leading the campaign to restore wildlife-rich roadside verges in the county..

Restoring Shropshire Verges Project volunteers have been working to re-instate some of the damaged verges across the county.

With the help of Shropshire Council Highways department, Plantlife, the National Trust, Caring for Gods Acre and Shropshire Hills AONB, RSVP volunteers have been ‘adopting’ verges across Shropshire, leaving them to grow wild until late summer and sowing or planting wildflowers.

Once the flowers are over in later summer the verges will be cut and the cuttings removed. To raise awareness and help people understand why these verges are being left to grow, volunteers have put up signs that say: ‘Don’t mow - late cut planned. These verges are being managed for wildlife.’

The Stepping Stones Project, a National-Trust led partnership which aims to create corridors of habitat for wildlife between the Long Mynd, Stretton Hills and the Stiperstones, has generated funding for the verges project this year.

Charlie Bell, Stepping Stones Project Officer, said: “Hay meadows are one of the UK’s most threatened habitats. Managed well, our roadside verges could become long, linear wildflower meadows which act as habitat in their own right, as well as linking other patches of habitats together. This would provide food and places to live for animals, insects and birds and help them move freely through the landscape.”

Peter Carty, chair of RSVP, said there are examples of the way less grass cutting can help.

“As has been shown elsewhere in the country, such as Dorset and Lincolnshire, reducing the frequency of verge cutting not only helps wildlife but has the potential to save taxpayers’ money on fuel and labour too, and reduce pollution and carbon emissions,” he said.

I would like to acknowledge the excellent progress we have made to date, working with Shropshire Council to re-think the long-term management of verges in the county. The Highways department have been very supportive and have recently submitted a bid to deliver 50kms of flower-rich road verge, which if successful would be fantastic for the county’s verges.”