Road verge nature reserves | Oxfordshire County Council

Road verge nature reserves

Guidance on how to look after and designate road verge nature reserves (RVNRs).

Calcareous grassland

Road verge nature reserves (RVNRs) are the most biodiverse parts of the green network of verges running alongside roads in the countryside. They connect up the countryside and allow wildlife to move through what can be an inhospitable landscape.

There are approximately 35 RVNRs in Oxfordshire which are managed by our Highways and Transport team. RVNRs are usually wide road verges with long grass to enhance biodiversity by providing habitat for flowers and insects. RVNRs may also contain other valuable habitats such as wet ditches, drier grassland at the edge of the road and species-rich hedgerows.

The locations of current road verge nature reserves are available from www.data.gov.uk

What makes RVNRs so special

The underlying geology and low-nutrient soils of these areas results in the growth of unusual and specialised grasses and flowers. The long grass allows insects (such as bees and butterflies) and reptiles (such as grass snakes and slow worms) to breed in the spring and hibernate in the winter. The flowers produce nectar and pollen to feed butterflies and bees which then attract birds and bats.

You can find out more about the location of Oxfordshire’s RVNRs and descriptions of their biodiversity interest by contacting Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC).

How they are managed

RVNRs are marked with posts so that contractors know to only cut the grass at the end of the summer (September/October). This allows the plants to flower and drop their seeds onto the ground so they can grow into new flowers the following year. RVNRs are cut every year to prevent hedgerow species (such as hawthorn) growing on the verge and shading out the grasses and flowers.

Last reviewed
20 September 2017
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