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Managing road verges for pollinators

Road verges and their potential for pollinators: A review of the costs, benefits and management options

Road verges are a common sight across the UK landscape, with 238,000 ha of road verges along our almost 400,000 kilometres of roads. These habitats can support a wide range of wildlife, in particular providing sources of food and shelter for insect species. This report reviews the scientific literature on the benefits road verges can provide to pollinators, as well as the costs caused by their proximity to roads and road traffic. Finally the report reviews the literature around road verge management in order to make recommendations that aim to provide the best habitats for pollinators. The management recommendations provide road verge managers with a hierarchy of management choices, with each step benefiting pollinators and from which action can be taken depending on their resource and commitment levels.

In summary, the report highlights the importance of road verges as a food source for pollinators when they are managed correctly, as the scientific literature shows that road verges can harbour a high diversity and abundance of flowers providing food and host plants for pollinators such as butterflies, moths, bees and hoverflies. Due to their proximity to roads pollinators and plants in road verges are subjected to often high levels of pollution from car exhausts and degradation of car parts, as well as the more immediate threat caused from mortality from collisions with vehicles.