Roadside nature reserves

Roadside Nature Reserves

Paul Hobson

Roadside Nature Reserves (RNRs)

One of the most pleasing aspects of the Lincolnshire countryside is the wide verges along many of the roadsides. They are havens for a variety of invertebrates and small mammals, and in summer they are coloured with many kinds of wildflowers.

The verges of the county together form the largest remaining tract of semi-natural vegetation. Intensive agricultural practices, along with increased industrial and housing development, have threatened the survival of wildlife and wild places. The verges are therefore of great importance in providing a reservoir of plants and animals, some of which have become scarce or localised owing to the loss of suitable habitat elsewhere.

The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, together with partners, are currently trialing the use of a Road Verge Biomass Harvester - managing roadside vegetation in the Lincolnshire Wolds and Fens. Green energy, more rural jobs, cost savings for the county council and self-funding biodiversity conservation are among the key aims of the project. Click below to find out more.

Road Verge Biomass Harvester

In Lincolnshire the richest verges are found on the alkaline soils of the chalk and limestone where they contain such rare plants as yellow-wort, autumn gentian, dyer's greenweed, clustered bellflower, pyramidal and man orchids. Some verges on clay soils have a varied meadow flora, including such species as cowslip, spotted-orchid and adder's tongue. There are interesting verges also on the more acid sands and gravels in the centre and north-west of the county.

Because of the special role that verges play in wildlife conservation, and because of the need to have regard to factors that might change their character (and therefore their biological interest and attractiveness), a scheme for their protection and management was set up in 1960. The scheme is run in cooperation with Lincolnshire County Council whose Highways Division provides financial and advisory support. Management is carried out by the Trust in accordance with agreed plans, which take account of wildlife needs and road safety.

There are 65 Roadside Nature Reserves, covering either both sides of the road or only one side, which total a distance of over 80 kilometres (50 miles). For each verge, the Trust appoints a voluntary 'Wayside Warden' to help look after the biological interest in liaison with the Divisional Surveyors and landowners.

When visiting the verges please take care to park safely and not to park on the verge. Take special care to look out for traffic.

Roadside Nature Reserves list