Unanimous support for biodiversity project

Derbyshire Dales district councillors have voted unanimously to increase biodiversity in the road verges and open spaces the authority manages.

A full council meeting on Thursday (8 October) agreed to create a working group to investigate and pursue the potential to increase biodiversity.

The debate can be viewed on our YouTube channel here:



The District Council's Director Community & Environmental Services, Ash Watts, stressed this would be a collaborative project using "the wealth of experience among Members" and working with local town and parish councils and other bodies such as Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

He said that as well as road verges, the project would focus on parks and open spaces in the district, creating "wildlife corridors" and educational messages and information with help from local schools.

The new working group will investigate and trial changing the management of urban road verges that already have some wildlife interest to increase both the number of species and the population of wildflowers and will carry out a trial of the creation of wildflower verges.

A key aim will be to raise awareness of these verges to residents of the Dales and to ask for their help in identifying verges rich in wildflowers.

Matlock councillor Martin Burfoot told the meeting:
"This topic has long been close to the top of my agenda while witnessing many hectares of verges and public open space owned and managed by both county and district councils being relentlessly mown week after week, month after month through the sumer. Until this year, and I can honestly say it's the only thing you can say 'thanks to the Covid pandemic and lockdown' that so many areas have been left unmown for many weeks.
"A change in public as well as officer and Member perception is needed since we're all accustomed to seeing close, mown, pristine open space and we get residents urging us to make sure that all these areas are mown like bowling greens. They are what I call landscape deserts, especially around so many of our housing developments and even school grounds."

The meeting heard that the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s and remaining meadows are often isolated.

Road verges provide important corridors for plants and animals by linking these wild spaces, and they are also habitats for plants, invertebrates, small mammals and birds.

Over the last two decades road verges have declined in biodiversity due to changes in management, with them being mowed too regularly or at the wrong time.

View the full report [PDF]
Derbyshire Dales district councillors have voted unanimously to increase biodiversity in the road verges and open spaces the authority manages.

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