Road Verge Nature Reserves in West Berkshire

The Berkshire Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) are halfway through a project to identify, survey and manage road verges that are important for wildlife in West Berkshire.  Road verges can be refuges for important plant species and communities, in some cases are the only islands of semi-natural grassland in a landscape.  Therefore, identifying where these important road verges are and managing them to maintain their value is vital.

TVERC have completed the initial “risk assessment” phase of this project. Each road verge was assigned a “high”, “medium” or “low” risk of deterioration based on a multitude of factors. The initial stage of this project tapped into the vast experience that members of the TVERC team have in data collection and formatting, as externally sourced data was combined with output from the various TVERC databases to allow for sufficient analysis of the risk factors.

Factors such as pollution, species richness and habitat distinctiveness were used to determine this risk factor, utilising several analytic techniques such as hierarchical cluster analysis and the geometric mean. It was found that 20% of the Road Verge Nature Reserves (RVNR) were classified as high risk. This classification will help BBOWT in prioritising which RVNR to survey, increasing the speed at which effective management strategies are implemented, with the end goal of improving the condition of road verges in the long-term across the district.