Highways to become ‘WildWays’ as Merton Council rolls out new scheme to boost local biodiversity 

Merton Council is set to introduce 14 pilot WildWays sites on roadside grass verges across the borough this year. 

The council is committed to creating a cleaner, greener borough – a beautiful place for people to live and work alongside thriving wildlife populations. To help boost local biodiversity the council is trialling a new management method to encourage greater diversity and abundance of vegetation on our roadside verges.  

The process of introducing new plants takes time and this pilot is the start to improving the overall sustainability of Merton’s public spaces. The new plants and wildflowers that this scheme will support will provide a great source of forage for pollinating insects such as butterflies and support local bumblebee populations.  

Merton Council has worked closely with its contractor, idverde, to identify suitable locations to support this new initiative. During this year, the grass on pilot verges will be allowed to grow longer reducing the cutting frequency from 12 cuts per year to 1 conservation cut per year. This means 33,225 sqm of highways grass, 11% of the total highway grass managed by the council, will be a WildWay area. Less mowing will help to reduce carbon emissions and support the council’s ambition to be more sustainable. Signage will be installed and a mown buffer strip will be maintained around the perimeter of each location to define the boundary of the wild verges.  

Cabinet Member for Local Environment and Green Spaces, Councillor Natasha Irons, said: “Protecting biodiversity and supporting pollinators is an important part of our response to the climate emergency. We want to create environments in our borough where residents and wildlife can thrive alongside one another. 

“WildWays is one of many new practices we are piloting across Merton in support of this vision and this spring, we will also be running a trail of alternative approaches to weed management in some of our streets”  

“This new management method will improve the health of our soils and bring much needed colour to our highways. I look forward to seeing the results of Merton’s new WildWays in the coming years.”