Roadside nature reserves along A12 and A14 in full bloom
- Credit: Archant
Wildflowers have been appearing on the embankments along Suffolk’s busiest roads thanks to a project designed to create mini nature reserves at the roadside.
According to wildflower conservation charity Plantlife, the UK has lost more than 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s. But Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Wildlife Trust work with several partner agencies to allow plants, insects and wild animals to thrive in their habitats, with one scheme identifying roadside verges as ideal locations to create habitats for pollinating insects and other small creatures.
There are almost 100 Roadside Nature Reserves (RNRs) across Suffolk, some along smaller roads but others along the county’s dual carriageways.
Adrian Walters, the clerk for the Sudbury Common Lands Charity and a volunteer at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said the roadside meadows are vital to keeping some species alive in Suffolk.
“It is amazing and quite astonishing to see them spring up this time of year and the number of species that can appear,” he said.
“Some of them can be missing in Suffolk for years and by accident, they crop up in your meadow.
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“And the flowers, of course, attract the variety of insects that animals can feed on, so the benefit works its way through the ecosystem.
“RNRs are a refuge for some of our rarest flora now.
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“Both of the reserves I maintain have got plants that are very unusual in Suffolk, like the crested cow-wheat and sulphur clover.”
Mr Walters said the work to maintain these habitats was hard but rewarding.
He added: “You do not get a wildflower meadow instantly, you have to be prepared to do the work because they do require management.
“They are roadside so they are still exposed to fumes like nitrogen dioxide and salt spray.”
Encouraging residents to set up further projects, he said: “If you want to start an RNR the best starting point is to get in touch with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust – if you have a location you think could be used a volunteer from the trust can come out and inspect the area.
“The most key thing is the cutting and clearing of the meadows in the autumn, it is of paramount importance. It allows the other species to thrive.”
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