Road Verge Nature Reserves (RVNRs)

flower rich road verge

Road verges can be an invaluable wildlife habitat. The post-1940s promotion of intensive land management practices means road verges are often the last refuges of flora and fauna now lost from the wider countryside. Their linear nature provides a county-wide network of corridors helping wildlife to move through the landscape and maintain contact between individuals and otherwise isolated populations.

Living Highways

In 2001, the Living Highways Project was set up as collaboration between a number of organisations to increase awareness of the issues associated with road verge habitats, within the jurisdiction of Powys County Council (PCC). From 2003 to 2008, the project was spearheaded by Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust with a dedicated Living Highways Project Officer imbedded within PCC.

The focus of this work was to make the sympathetic management of Powys' road verges part of PCC’s day-to-day work. A big part of this is the designation of Road Verge Nature Reserves (RVNRs). A RVNR is a length of road verge that has been identified as having particular value to wildlife and is subsequently managed by PCC with the aim of conserving and enhancing those features of interest.

RVNRs in Montgomeryshire

There are currently 23 RVNRs in Montgomeryshire chosen for their populations of orchids, Glow-worms or Red Wood Ants, or simply for high species diversity. Further ‘candidate’ sites are also ‘waiting in the wings’ to be selected if they pass the criteria.

RVNR management

The RVNR designation affords the site no legal protection per se but serves to highlight the site’s biodiversity importance to local authority staff and contractors. All local authorities have a legal duty to have regard for the conservation of biodiversity and this includes works done in the course of managing the public highway and local development schemes.

2008 to 2014, PCC continued to manage the existing RVNR network and support monitoring of RVNRs by the three Powys Wildlife Trusts, aided by volunteers. Unfortunately, this support has now been withdrawn, however if you are keen to become a RVNR volunteer surveyor, then please contact Tammy Stretton at the Trust office. The level of experience required for these surveys varies from simply counting the number of flowering orchids to a full botanical survey, so there is something for everyone!

If you are concerned about how the management of any road verge in Powys, please contact Powys County Council.

More on the Living Highways Project

The Living Highways Project was involved with ground breaking ideas for road verge management, including, in 2004, a road verge harvesting trial to assess the future potential for collecting cuttings from Powys road verges (get more information on this by downloading the file below). We also continued to spearhead projects outside the boundaries of traditional road verge management, such as:

  • Harvesting seed from local sources for use in habitat creation and restoration schemes
  • Establishing new plant communities on species poor, or highly disturbed, road verges
  • Manipulating verges to support species movement between sites and throughout Powys

The success of these projects means that the oft neglected resources that are road verges, retain their tremendous potential to both conserve and enhance biodiversity within Powys, and across Wales.


FilenameFile size
living_highways_report_2006.pdf12.67 MB