Bug-boosting trial to see Welwyn Hatfield verges in bloom

PUBLISHED: 08:13 12 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:13 24 April 2019

The Digswell site of the wildflower verges scheme after one year, just before blooming season. Picture: Tamsin Jackson-Mynott

The Digswell site of the wildflower verges scheme after one year, just before blooming season. Picture: Tamsin Jackson-Mynott

Tamsin Jackson-Mynott

In efforts to reverse a critical decline in our insect population, Welwyn Hatfield verges have been allowed to bloom with wildflowers.

Wildflowers appearing in summer at Harpenden's Batford Springs and along A roads, where the trials have been under way for five years. Pictures: supplied byTamsin Jackson-MynottWildflowers appearing in summer at Harpenden's Batford Springs and along A roads, where the trials have been under way for five years. Pictures: supplied byTamsin Jackson-Mynott

The scheme is a trial across three roadside verges to see if encouraging wildflowers to grow will create a boom in the bug population.

According to the Natural History Museum, insect populations are plummeting worldwide, with potentially catastrophic consequences for us.

The Welwyn Hatfield trial sites are along South Way in Hatfield, Digswell Hill at Ayot Green, and Woodhall open space, Welwyn Garden City, and have been monitored by a professional botanist as well as volunteers from Welwyn Invertebrate Group.

“The key with road verges is that they connect other flowering areas, and it's the connectivity that is so vital to ensuring the health of our bug population,” said Liberal Democrat councillor Tamsin Jackson-Mynott, who initiated the trial.

The Digswell site of the wildflower verges scheme after one year, just before blooming season. Picture: Tamsin Jackson-MynottThe Digswell site of the wildflower verges scheme after one year, just before blooming season. Picture: Tamsin Jackson-Mynott

“This is not a rural issue anymore, we have destroyed most of our meadows, but we can create meadow corridors along our roads,” she added.

The scheme has been paid for with £700 from the Local Authorities Parks Improvement Funding scheme.

The trials will need about three years to grow properly, and progress will be monitored each spring to track the changes.

The Welwyn Invertebrate Group will conduct follow-up surveys over the next few years to see if flowers and the insect population increases as hoped.

Similar efforts in Harpenden have shown an abundance of wildflowers after five years.

Should the trial be a success, the councillor argued that although it hasn't been costed, rolling the scheme out borough-wide could reduce maintenance costs in the long term.

“The idea I put forward last May was that in the long run, the grass cutting schedule be changed county wide.

“Fewer cuts to mimic meadow management, resulting in more flowers, more insects and a cheaper contract for residents. Everyone wins.

“If this is adopted as a permanent change then it could result in a big saving for the council, so by extension, residents.

“I personally cannot see a down side and will be continuing to work to this end.”

She encourages residents to send feedback and pictures during the growing season to her at tamsinjackson-mynott@welhat.gov.uk.

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