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Reduced mowing of road verges could see wildflowers bloom

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Peter Orchard

Reduced mowing of road verges could see wildflowers bloom

Oxeye daisies, harebells and other wildflowers could have their best summer for years if councils reduce roadside verge mowing, experts have said.
The UK’s more than 310,000 miles of rural road verges have become a refuge for wildflowers squeezed out of the wider countryside, but often fall victim to frequent mowing which does not let them bloom and set seed.
However, some councils are now reducing the mowing of roadside verges in line with advice from wildlife experts at Plantlife, providing a boost not just for wildflowers but for a wide array of insects, birds and mammals they support.

White campion is one of the increasingly rare plants which could benefit from less mowing (Peter Fleming/PA)
With coronavirus putting pressure on council services and causing staff shortages, non-essential activities such as spring mowing could fall by the wayside.
The shift away from typically mowing the verges of rural roads, A-roads and motorways four times a year could also save large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions from the tractor mowers, Plantlife argues.
Reducing mowing to the “twice is nice” recommendations from the wildlife charity, cutting verges twice in late summer and autumn or once in autumn and once in early spring, could save 22,754 tonnes of carbon dioxide, it says.

Early purple orchid on road verge in Conwy north Wales (Trevor Dines/Plantlife/PA)
Plantlife acknowledges the need for mowing in areas where