Sheffield partnership set to carry out experiment in a bid to bring more wildlife to the city

Wednesday 18th May 2016

Roadside flowers in Sheffield credit Paul HobsonRoadside flowers in Sheffield credit Paul Hobson

A new collaboration between Streets Ahead, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust is changing the way that some of Sheffield’s grass verges are cut in a bid to understand if this can help bring more wildlife to our city.

The new trial aims to make experimental changes to the frequency in which some grass verges across the city are mowed between now and October. It is hoped that the longer grass will create ideal conditions to attract a wider range of wildlife.

Over the months ahead, University of Sheffield PhD researcher, Olivia Richardson, with support from the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, will be carrying out research to monitor the effects of the trial on wildlife.

Residents can follow updates about what is happening during the trial phase by following any of the partners on Twitter - @orichardson12, @sccstreetsahead, @WildSheffield – and can join in the conversation using #livinghighways.

Olivia said: “Previous research has shown that changing how often grass verges aremown in rural areas can improve verges for plants and insects. This trial will be a fantastic chance to see if the same is true in urban areas, whilst maintaining a functional road-side verge. This experiment will help form best practice for mowing urban verges to balance the need of people and wildlife.”

The trial is part of a wider Living Highways collaboration between the partners, which is set up to look at a variety of alternatives to short mown grass verges across the city.

Darren Butt, Streets Ahead’s Operations Director, said: “This is a great opportunity to enhance areas of Sheffield through increased diversity of maintenance and we’re pleased that we are able to work with the other partners in order to deliver the trial.”

Nicky Rivers from Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust added: “We are really pleased that Streets Ahead and the University of Sheffield are engaging in this experiment as we are convinced that Sheffield’s grass verges can be great for our native plants and wildlife if allowed to be a bit longer and wilder in suitable places.

“The Wildlife Trust works with organisations and communities to promote the sustainability of wildlife across Sheffield for everybody’s benefit. We’re really keen for people to get involved by sharing pictures on social media on the wildlife that might flourish as a result of these more welcoming environments.”

Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “I’m really pleased that we can work with the University of Sheffield and the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife trust on this project. I hope the results are positive and we see an increase in wildlife within the grass verges.”
“The Streets Ahead team currently look after over 2.9 million square metres of grass verges across the city. If we can use some of this to encourage wildlife, then that has to be a positive for the city.

Residents can follow updates about what is happening during the trial phase by following any of the partners on Twitter - @orichardson12, @sccstreetsahead, @WildSheffield – and can join in the conversation using #livinghighways.







Notes to editors:

About the Living Highways trial
Living Highways is a collaborative working group involving Streets Ahead, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and the University of Sheffield. It aims to understand the role that the city’s highway verges have for wildlife, and for urban sustainability, and how we might enhance this.

The Living Highways partners share a vision that by appropriate management of Sheffield’s road verges, we can maximise their sustainability, bringing economic, social and environmental benefits to Sheffield and its residents.

The trial will take place over the summer months, until October, with observations and research carried out over the period to monitor the effect of the trial on wildlife.

25 urban roads across the city have been selected for the trial. These include:

• Blackbrook Avenue
• Cavendish Avenue
• Lyndhurst Road
• Greystones Grange Road
• Greystones Hall Road
• Whirlowdale Road
• Folds Crescent
• Bochum Parkway
• Ridgeway Road
• Thornbridge Crescent
• Bowden Wood Crescent
• Ravenscroft Drive
• Moss Way
• Spring Lane
• Elm Lane
• Lindsay Avenue
• Ecclesfield Road
• Sheffield Parkway
• Bawtry Road
• Wincobank Lane
• Southey Hill
• Middlewood Road North
• Crowder Avenue
• Colley Avenue
• Herries Road

About Streets Ahead
The Streets Ahead contract is upgrading and ensuring the on-going maintenance of the
• city’s roads
• pavements
• highway structures (including bridges)
• street lighting
• traffic signals, road signs and markings
• fences, barriers and other street furniture
• landscape highway maintenance and highway trees
• street cleaning and winter gritting

As part of the contract, the Streets Ahead team look after over 2.9 square metres of grass verges across the city.

About Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust
Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust is one of 47 Wildlife Trusts working to make the UK a better place for people and wildlife. With more than 800,000 members, the Wildlife Trusts are the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to conserving the full range of the UK’s habitat and species. Collectively they manage over 2,300 nature reserves covering more than 90,000 hectares.

About The University of Sheffield
With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2016 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.