Winning the BIG Biodiversity Challenge Overall Award last year has helped further raise the profile of delivering biodiversity within Kier Highways and Highways England. The project was born out of a realisation that roadside verges could be further enhanced to provide real gains for biodiversity, in particular for pollinators such as butterflies, bees and hover flies.
The initiative used the ‘whole crop’ method, harvesting the seeds from existing local species rich roadside verges and introducing them at pre-prepared sites where invasive scrub and self-seeding trees had taken over. The introduced species, including oxeye daisy, poppy, corn cockle, tufted vetch, knapweed, bird’s foot trefoil, wild carrot and yellow rattle provide a vital source of pollen and nectar for the UK’s insect and butterfly species. The scheme was so successful it was replicated on the A30 in Devon and there are plans to roll it out to other sites along the A38 in Devon and A30 in Cornwall. These schemes align with DEFRA’s National Pollinator Strategy and environmental charity’s Buglifes’ B-line initiative, which aims to create a nationwide network for pollinating species such as bees. Since the delivery of this scheme Highways England have announced an ambitious Biodiversity KPI to halt biodiversity loss by 2020 and achieve biodiversity net gain by 2040. They also have a new target to create 3500 hectares of new species rich grassland. This new target had led to similar schemes being promoted across the country which is a great result for species rich grassland and the vital pollinator species that rely on them for survival.