The Inappropriate Cutting of our Roadside Verges

In 2012 the Charity ‘Plantlife’ has launched a UK wide campaign to
stop the devastating loss of wildflowers on our road verges, calling on
councils across the UK/Britain to better protect and manage road verges.

During the last two years an attack on a small piece of roadside habitat has been witnessed in our Village.

The side which was left uncut

The river bank which the mower could not reach. Thankfully!

A lonely patch of Red Clover survives.

Our message to Ravenstonedale Parish Council.

We would be interested to hear the justification for and the thinking behind the extent and timing of vegetation cutting on the green area beside the beck, near the Irish Ford at Town Head. ( NGR : NY 72053 03615) This seems to be done in a random and peculiar fashion. On Sunday 29th. July 2012 this area was reduced to messy mulch for a second time this year, it was also cut in a similar manner at least twice last year. There was no precedent for any regular cutting here before this, except for a metre wide strip down the eastern edge carried out by the highway authority on occasions. The frequency,timing and method of cutting seems entirely inappropriate and altogether pointless. My profession causes me to work closely with the natural environment and I have to be aware of any disturbance to wildlife or destruction of natural habitat. This sometimes requires surveying over a period of time before any work is carried out. I not only do this out of a personal interest but because there is a legal requirement to do so in many instances, particularly in conservation areas. I would be interested to know what the results of any such survey work was in this case and if they could be published. I have over the years been responsible for the creation of several ‘wild flower meadows’ and also involved in the enhancement and reinstatement of many more neglected meadows and flower rich grassland amenity areas. We have lived close to this piece of land for almost 26 years and know the flora and fauna it has contained and sheltered during that time, intimately. This area can be described as species rich, i.e. it is not just grass, and has an interesting and diverse range of wild plants. It is also a haven and food source for many types of wild mammals, birds, insects, amphibians and some reptiles!

Flowers are being cut before they can set seed and then smothered by the cuttings, only species like nettles, docks and coarse grasses benefit from this type of management. The timing is also disturbing nesting and fledgling birds and the foraging and shelter of young hedgehogs, frogs, toads, common lizards and palmate newts. If it is felt that any cutting is necessary,  it has to be managed correctly. I suggest we need to manage this area just like we do our historic hay meadows, with one cut at the end of the summer and the cuttings collected. Ravenstonedale’s natural attributes provide some of the most interesting, valuable and attractive aspects of our village. We have famous hay meadows, a Church yard full of important conservation assets and spectacular scenery. It makes any work carried out without due thought all the more noticeable and regrettable. In 2012 the Charity ‘Plantlife’ has launched a UK wide campaign to stop the devastating loss of wildflowers on our road verges, calling on councils across the UK/Britain to better protect and manage road verges. http://www.plantlife.org.uk/roadvergecampaign/flower_gallery

I would urge the Parish Council to take note of Plantlife’s quest to encourage the preservation of this nations wild plants and follow their guidelines when considering all grass-cutting work.

It would be a shame if the treatment of this area were to let down Ravenstonedale Parish. The Highways authority and the County Council work closely with The Cumbria Wildlife Trust and on the whole produce an acceptable job on most of our surrounding verges.

Short time after cutting.

Is this an improvement?

The resulting ‘Messy Mulch’

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