Verging on the Impossible
Just up the lane we have a really nice verge, which is a kind of mini-meadow. We're acknowledging the value of this kind of area for wildflowers nationally*. This one is nothing super special botanically, but very nice nonetheless. It's well over 5m wide and runs for a good 400m, so it's a pretty good resource for local wildlife and looks lovely too. The soil there is relatively poor, so even just the annual cut most of it gets later on in the year is good enough for it to keep its floral diversity.
I say "most of it" because in late May/early June every year something stupid happens.
The council pay a contractor to cut a 1m strip along all the road verges around us. I took this photo a couple of weeks after it happened. I get this when there's blackthorn suckering from the hedge, for example, or when there's a safety issue - when plants obscure drivers' view. I don't understand this, though:
Or rather, I do understand it, but it's clearly mad. Our council is broke and can ill afford this kind of exercise, but they pay a contractor to cut the verges, so he cuts the verges. No exceptions.
Unlike some of the road verge horrors I see on social media at this time of year this isn't doing a huge amount of harm, but it's the idiocy of it which annoys me.
It's a tiny example of why any attempt by government to encourage wildlife is doomed to failure. You can't impose a set of standards and regulations on this kind of thing. In this instance, other than having a word, how do you convey to bloke in tractor what he should be doing? Then there's the small matter of working out a way of paying him NOT to cut this kind of area.
We're currently swamped in all kinds of government schemes for the environment, which - entirely predictably - seem to be stalling or being massively watered down. A new food strategy to include sustainble farming is apparently too expensive. The new farm subsidy system is piecemeal and grotesquely underfunded, and biodiversity net gain for new developments fantastically complicated and easily gamed. Unscrupulous corporates also play carbon and phosphate offsetting schemes.
If we can't even work out how to leave a few hundred metres of road verge uncut for a few months, what chance do any of these initiatives have of producing meaningful results?
*We sell a "road verge" seed mix now.