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Ranger welcomes reprieve for roadside wildflowers

North West Area Ranger Ian Meopham heralds the latest approach to hedge cutting.

You may have noticed that Pembrokeshire’s roadside banks have changed, they are blousier, bouncier; more ‘full beard’ than ‘clean shaven’.

They hum, buzz and flutter, and when the wind blows they wave, bend, undulate and ripple.

Wildflowers on the roadside
Wildflowers on the roadside.

In late May and June when the wildflowers such as foxgloves, cow parsley, campion, hawk bit and scabious, to name but a few, are in full bloom, they put on a display to rival that of the most obsessive gardener.

So, what’s going on? What’s changed?

I think it’s well-known and understood that our wildlife has had a hard time over the last 40 years, retreating often to the margins of productive land, but our roadside verges, banks and hedges are bucking the trend as a result of a change in management policy which seems to have no losers.

Up until two years ago the banks would have been cut with tractor mounted flails twice a year, in early and late summer. Well ordered, neat and tidy, but devastating for biodiversity.

Safety will always be prioritised, with visibility splays at junctions, awkward bends and fast stretches still being cut early but the rest is left to flower and seed, and to be cut only once, later in the summer.

The results, you can see, hear and smell for yourselves, it also saves diesel, time and money, perhaps even slowing and calming traffic as the lanes appear narrower.

I hope you approve and will forgive the odd wisp of vegetation caught around your nearside wing mirror!

National Park Ranger Blog
Published 07/08/2017


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