Wilder Verges pilot boosts biodiversity in Brighton & Hove

In 2022, we conducted a pilot project implementing a no-mow approach on 23 verges throughout Brighton & Hove. Through the Wilder Verges project, we observed a new pollinator or downland plant species on 70% of the sites. 

The Wilder Verges project was funded by Natural England to explore how we can use verges to improve biodiversity.  

Community volunteers surveyed 25 verges in summer 2021 to collect information about plant species on mown verges before the pilot began. After this, 23 of the sites were kept uncut during the growing season from March to September 2022.  

Connecting habitats 

The 23 verges form an important part of wider biodiversity landscape initiatives to create bigger, better, and more joined-up habitats. They link with local schools’ City of Meadows project and many of Brighton & Hove’s 19 B-Banks. 

The verges are all within 300 metres of recognised Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs), while 17 are within or next to Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs). 


When we surveyed the sites again in August and September 2022, we found that nearly half (48%) of the sites had seen an increase in the number of pollinator or downland plant species present.  

We also observed that 10 sites (43%) had seen the amount of pollinator-friendly plant species increase from 2021 (short mown) to 2022 (unmown during the main flowering season). 


The Wilder Verges pilot has helped us improve biodiversity by allowing plants to flower, complete their lifecycle, set seed and provide connectivity, food and shelter for our local insects and wildlife.  

Collectively, the 23 pilot verges cover a substantial area of over 90,000m2 – more than 20 acres – of unused and undeveloped land which can help to connect the landscape with other wildlife areas and projects.  

Managing verges for wildlife will help us move towards creating a local nature recovery network as proposed by the government to restore and enhance the natural environment.  

Unique opportunity 

Councillor Jamie Lloyd, lead councillor for biodiversity, said: “Since Brighton & Hove City Council announced a climate and biodiversity emergency in 2018, we have been working hard   to improve nature and wildlife throughout the city and The Living Coast.

“Verges offer a unique opportunity to connect habitats using often overlooked and undeveloped land in such an urban landscape. These seemingly small spaces collectively have a significant impact, allowing us to join-up existing biodiversity projects such as Wilding Waterhall, B-Banks, and the City of Meadows project.  

“These important initiatives all support our fight against the climate and biodiversity crisis and help us achieve our goal of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030.”  

Biodiversity is our planet’s life support system. Restoring nature underpins the health and wellbeing of people and wildlife in an era of climate change. 

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