The Dearne ‘On the Verge’ Biodiversity Project aims to enhance biodiversity in Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham. The project aims to achieve this by increasing local understanding of the value of verges for biodiversity through practical conservation work and monitoring surveys of key indicator species (e.g. insects, plants etc.)
Already, a condition assessment of 17km of road verges has been completed to initially identify verges which will have the largest biodiversity gains. The condition assessment primarily looked at the safety of the road verges for volunteers to work on. Other consideration during the surveys was soil quality, plant species present and potential management activities.
(17KM of Verge has been assessed to date by ecologists for there existing value to plants & animals in the Dearne)
Bird and butterfly surveys have now been completed too, with birds including yellowhammer, garden warbler, and 36 other species being recorded. Six species of butterfly were also recorded across the three boroughs during the surveys, with other invertebrates such as the cinnabar moth and white-tailed bumblebee also present.
(Orange Tip Butterfly)
The Highways Agency are also becoming increasingly involved in the project. We have met with Rotherham who are very keen to be involved in this project. Doncaster and Barnsley meetings are planned for the future. Other private stakeholders are also looking to become involved in the project, so watch this space!
(Existing high quality verges in the Dearne will hopefully be safeguarded into the future with the help of partners and local authority staff)
Looking forward, Baker Consultants will soon begin to develop the 5-year Management Plan that will leave a lasting legacy and guide the management of the selected verges. The plan will outline the verges selected for volunteers to manage, containing detailed maps of the roads and where management work shall take place, as well as management activity timescales. The practical conservation work outlined in the plan will focus on bulb planting, wildflower sowing, hedgerow laying/management and scrub clearing.
(Top: Southern Marsh Orchard recorded Bottom: Oxeye Daisy)
Alongside the practical conservation work will also be a monitoring programme. The monitoring surveys aim to increase biological records of road verges as they are severely under recorded. The surveys will target key indicator species including plants, birds and butterflies. Training workshops will be provided to volunteers to demonstrate the monitoring survey methodology. These will be arranged in due course in the local areas and will build on experience from past workshops delivered with our fantastic partners Sorby Natural History Society.
If you are interested in getting involved with the project please email RoseannaBurton@Barnsley.gov.uk for more information.