Roadside verges are an important wildlife habitat and managed appropriately, they can support a wide range of biodiversity. With 10,000km of highways in Hampshire, this provides approximately 13,000 hectares of roadside verge, equivalent to 3% of the county's land area.
Road verges may :
contain rare species or flower-rich swards
act as reservoirs of wildlife in intensively farmed or urban areas
lie alongside good quality habitat,
be a haven for insects, reptiles and small mammals
act as a food resource for birds
The County Council is responsible for the management of the verges on all roads (except motorways and major trunk roads) in the county. The Road Verge Project aims to identify verges of ecological importance that support important flora and to maintain or enhance these sites through appropriate management and protection, such as
manipulating cutting regimes
planting up verges
preventing damage during road maintenance or public utilities operations
surveying to safeguard protected species
on-going survey programme (approximately 15 – 20 per year)
The Ecology Group advises the Highways Department on the management of these ecologically important road verges, whilst satisfying road safety requirements. Around 250 such verges have been identified, with approximately 100 under special management.