Responsible department: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Local authorities typically manage vast areas of amenity open space and roadside grass verges by regular cutting to ground level - as for sports fields. This has drastically reduced populations of previously common low-growing grassland wild flower species, resulting in a serious loss of habitat for our already endangered wild bees, butterflies and other arthropods. This in turn threatens the survival of other wildlife. It also creates a visually barren landscape devoid of attraction for young people, on the cultivation of whose enthusiasm the future of conservation must depend. To reverse this destruction, we propose that national principles for amenity open space and road verge management be defined as follows: that the cutting regime on amenity grassland other than designated sports pitches should ensure the grass is never shorter than 50-60 mm; that the cutting of road verges where wild flora are still abundant be delayed until the flowers have set and shed seed.