No Mow May: Cambridgeshire County Council joins in Plantlife’s biodiversity initiative by pledging not to cut roadside verges this month
By Siobhan Middleton
You’ve probably heard of Veganuary and Second-Hand September on the list of month-long environmental initiatives, but how about ‘No Mow May’?
An initiative run by conservation charity Plantlife, which works to protect threatened wildflowers, plants and fungi. It says more than 700 species of wildflowers grow on UK road verges – which is almost 45 per cent of all wildflower species found across the country.
And road verges aren’t the only focus for the UK-wide campaign, which aims to encourage gardeners to banish their lawnmower during May and use it less throughout the summer.
Cambridgeshire County Council is joining in as part of its effort to support biodiversity and will not cut roadside verges throughout this month,
Cllr Gerri Bird (Lab, East Chesterton), vice-chair of the council’s highways and transport committee, said: “It’s really important that we make changes wherever we can to support our local biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions, and this is just one step we are taking to help us reach net zero emissions.
“Of course, road safety is a priority for us too, so road users can be assured that any necessary maintenance will be carried out and signage will remain clearly visible.”
There was support for the county council’s decision in Cambridge.
City councillor Katie Porrer (Lib Dem, Market) said: “I raised ‘No Mow May’ last year to see if it is something the council had taken part in, which it hadn’t. I’m glad it is going ahead this year.
“I think this initiative will remind people across Cambridgeshire about what they can be doing to support biodiversity. I leave my own garden to grow rather than mowing it too frequently, and I think that’s something many people can do.
“Where grass or plants do need to be controlled for valid reasons, herbicides should certainly not be used, and this is something I have been pressuring the council about.”
Fellow city councillor Hannah Copley (Green, Abbey) said: “Last year, there were areas across Barnwell verge that were allowed to grow and turn into meadow. However, contractors mowed these areas twice, which was a real problem. I hope this won’t happen again.
“Cities can be really good places to support wildlife, as long as people put in the effort. This includes allowing flowers and verges to grow, but also things like cutting hedgehog holes in fences and making sure there’s water sources in gardens.
“There’s so much we can do, and we must be doing all of it across the whole of Cambridgeshire.”
Referring to statistics showing the potential for lawns to nurture wildlife, including the 250-plus plant species reported from across the gardens of last year’s No Mow May participants, Plantlife’s CEO Ian Dunn said: “Embracing a little more wildness in our gardens can be a boon for plants, butterflies and bees. We are excited by the unfolding dawn of a new British lawn.”
Find out more at https://nomowmay.plantlife.org.uk/.
Are you joining in? Let us know and share some pictures of your wildflower gardens by emailing email@example.com.