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

We trialled the Brighton & Hove Wilder Verges project in 2022 to find out if managing verges better can improve their wildlife and biodiversity. The project included 25 verge sites throughout Brighton & Hove.

Lesser Celandine Road verge off London Rd in Brighton showing tall grass and flowers

Our partners 

We worked with Brighton & Hove’s Wildlife Forum and volunteers from across the city to deliver the project. The aim was to see if changing how we manage mown grassland (like verges), benefits urban nature.     

Natural England funded this project. It's part of their work to explore the potential of urban nature recovery networks in England.  

To improve how we manage the verges on these sites, we didn’t mow them from March/April to August/September. This is the main botanical flowering season and allowed the plants to grow to maturity and flower.  

We are evaluating the project and preparing a report about the results. 

Verges - the perfect location for flowery havens 

Verges are perfect areas of unused land, which when left to grow and flower provide havens and corridors for nature. They link up open spaces, parks and gardens throughout the city, like green lungs.

Verges managed for wildlife boost biodiversity, and offer much needed structural and habitat variety. This includes food sources such as nectar and pollen rich flowers, different leaf shapes and a variety of plant heights.

A range of habitats supports a wider variety of insects, spiders, worms and molluscs. In turn this supports wildlife higher up the food chain like mammals and birds. 

Long flowering grasses provide valuable habitat for insects. This benefits other animals as part of the bigger, connected food web.  

Many butterflies and moths lay their eggs or have caterpillars that rely on grasses as food. Birds, such as the city’s iconic starlings, feed on insects for their diet.

Withdean Rise grass verge with long grass, purple flowers and a car parked in the background.

Raising awareness  

The Wilder Verges project helped to increase our diverse range of wildlife and plants. Its aim was also to bring residents and visitors closer to nature.  

We monitored the Wilder Verges areas to learn how changes to how often and when we mow, affected our urban nature.  

The results, detailed in our Wilder Verges Report show:

  • nearly half (48%) of the sites saw an increase in pollinator or downland plant species present (11 out of the 23 sites)
  • 10 out of 23 sites (43%) saw the amount of pollinator species increase from 2021 (short mown) to 2022 (unmown during the main flowering season)
  • 70% of the verges (16 out of 23) recorded a pollinator or downland plant species not seen as present in the 2021 survey.

Read the Wilder Verges project report summary.

More information

The Living Coast website - information about Brighton & Hove Wilder Verges project piloting wildlife grass management for biodiversity across the city.

Plantlife Road Verge Hub.