Road Verges of Conservation Importance (definition)

Durham Lowland Priority Habitats
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Road Verges of Conservation Importance Habitat Definition

Road verges contain a variety of habitats, but in the Durham context their main value lies in the species rich grassland communities that have managed to survive in parts.  These botanically species rich verges also have value for invertebrates.

Identification & Mapping

To meet the definition a road verge of conservation importance must:

  1. contain at least 5 species from the following list within at least one 20m linear section.
Agrimony Dyer’s greenweed Marsh/Fen bedstraw Sweet cicely
Betony Eyebright Goat’s-beard Meadow vetchling Thyme-leaved sandwort
Bitter vetch Fairy flax Melancholy thistle Tormentil
Bloody cranesbill Great burnet Milkworts Water avens
Bugle Gentians Mouse-ear hawkweed Water mint
Burnett saxifrage Globe flower Orchids Wild marjoram
Carline thistle Greater Knapweed Pepper saxifrage Wild thyme
Common bird’s-foot trefoil Hairy violet Pignut Wood anenome
Common bistort Harebell Purple milk vetch Wood cranesbill
Common Centaury Hawkbits Quaking Grass Yellow rattle
Common meadow-rue Hoary plantain Ragged robin Yellow-wort
Common rock-rose Horeshoe vetch Salad burnet Small blue-green sedges
Common Knapweed Kidney vetch Saw-wort Ancient woodland indicators
Cowslip Lady’s bedstraw Small Scabious
Devil’s-bit scabious Lady’s mantles Sneezewort

(Derived from lists for lowland calcareous grassland and lowland meadow in DEFRA’s HLS-FEP handbook* with some adjustment for Durham.)

2. contain any of the red-listed* lady’s mantles Alchemilla acutilobaA. glomerulansA. monticolaA. subcrenataA.wichurae, or Northern Hawks-beard  – Crepis mollis.

3. be a recorded breeding site for any Durham BAP invertebrate species.

For the purposes of mapping a road verge parcel needs to be contained within a reasonable management unit (e.g between field entrances or road junctions).

Condition Assessment

There is currently no condition assessment defined for this habitat, although species lists from fixed quadrats on a sample of road verge parcels are recorded regularly to monitor species loss / gain.

*DEFRA (2005) Higher Level Stewardship: Farm Environment Plan – Guidance handbook.

*JNCC (2007). Conservation Designations for UK Taxa – downloadable spreadsheet.