Verges are an important wildlife resource and an integral part of Devon's heritage. They provide a range of habitats and are increasingly important wildlife corridors for threatened species and pollinators. They also provide one of the only opportunities for us to see wildflowers on a daily basis, in towns and villages, as well as in a intensively managed countryside.
The project was set up as a trial with the aim of working with communities in the Biosphere Reserves area to identify, adopt and manage roadside verges for the benefit of both wildlife and people.
As a pilot project, Life on the Verge - Biosphere has shared its learning with Devon County Council so that the principles and good practice developed during this project can be rolled out across the whole of Devon.
For advice about how to get involved and help your local verges please email the Devon Council Council team: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website: Life on the Verge in Devon
Verge Management - where to start
This 'Getting Started' guide has helpful information for any community wishing to adopt a verge and improve it for wildlife. It outlines safety information to consider, the different approaches to managing a verge for wildflowers and when to carryout different tasks.
With the help of volunteers and a community approach, verges that aren't currently as diverse as they could be or are at risk of deterioration can be enhanced by simple management techniques. This will often involve annual cutting and removal of clippings after the growing season, but might also involved techniques such as oversowing with local seed. (for additional information Plantife's Good Verge Guide shows a nantional approach).
Our verge survey is designed to be as simple as possible so that even those with little knowledge of botany can get involved. There's scope within the survey to show off your skills as they develop and for those with more advanced knowledge of our native plants already. Below are all the survey documents you'll need to get started. Our main priority is to ensure your safety, so please do ensure you read our guidance carefully before heading off to survey a verge and follow the Highways Safety section below.
Completed surveys should be returned to Devon Biodiversity Records Centre.
In order to ensure that all volunteers are as safe as possible while working beside the highway, Devon County Council has produced a free eLearning module on Highways Safety Training, it is essential that all volunteers working on roadside verges carryout this training. You first need to register your name and email address with email@example.com once they reply to you, login to the eLearning site at www.devon.learningpool.com and search for the course ‘ Highways Safety Awareness' as 'Self Enrolment'. We would urge all volunteers to complete this training, rest assured it doesn't take long to complete and it will help to keep you and those around you as safe as possible on our roads.
There are 16 verges in the Biosphere Reserve that have previously been identified by Devon County Council as 'Special Verges' due to their exceptional wildlife value or their value to communities. These have been
re-surveyed as part of this project.
Volunteers managing the Northam Special Verge.
Early purple orchids on a verge in Hatherleigh.