20 May 2016

A new collaboration between Streets Ahead, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust is changing the way that some of Sheffield’s grass verges are cut in a bid to understand if this can help bring more wildlife to our city.

The new trial aims to make experimental changes to the frequency in which some grass verges across the city are mowed between now and October. It is hoped that the longer grass will create ideal conditions to attract a wider range of wildlife.

Over the months ahead, University of Sheffield PhD researcher, Olivia Richardson, with support from the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, will be carrying out research to monitor the effects of the trial on wildlife.

Olivia said: “Previous research has shown that changing how often grass verges are mown in rural areas can improve verges for plants and insects. This trial will be a fantastic chance to see if the same is true in urban areas, whilst maintaining a functional road-side verge. This experiment will help form best practice for mowing urban verges to balance the need of people and wildlife.”

The trial is part of a wider Living Highways collaboration between the partners, which is set up to look at a variety of alternatives to short mown grass verges across the city.

Darren Butt, Streets Ahead’s Operations Director, said: “This is a great opportunity to enhance areas of Sheffield through increased diversity of maintenance and we’re pleased that we are able to work with the other partners in order to deliver the trial.”

Nicky Rivers from Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust added: “We are really pleased that Streets Ahead and the University of Sheffield are engaging in this experiment as we are convinced that Sheffield’s grass verges can be great for our native plants and wildlife if allowed to be a bit longer and wilder in suitable places.
“The Wildlife Trust works with organisations and communities to promote the sustainability of wildlife across Sheffield for everybody’s benefit. We’re really keen for people to get involved by sharing pictures on social media on the wildlife that might flourish as a result of these more welcoming environments.”
Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “I’m really pleased that we can work with the University of Sheffield and the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust on this project. I hope the results are positive and we see an increase in wildlife within the grass verges.”

“The Streets Ahead team currently look after over 2.9 million square metres of grass verges across the city. If we can use some of this to encourage wildlife, then that has to be a positive for the city”.

Residents can follow updates about what is happening during the trial phase by following any of the partners on Twitter – @orichardson12, @sccstreetsahead, @WildSheffield – and can join in the conversation using #livinghighways.