Creating New Amenity Road Verges of Value to Wildlife: The Importance of Soil Fertility


Phil Sterling was the principal ecological adviser to Dorset County Council for 25 years and was involved in habitat creation on the back of several large-scale developments. For 4 years he also managed the county’s road verge maintenance budget, achieving substantial cost savings and wildlife gains through adopting measures to reduce soil fertility. He moved to Butterfly Conservation in 2018 to establish ‘Building Sites for Butterflies’, a national programme encouraging creation and management of amenity grasslands for wildlife. The programme showcases habitat creation such as achieved along the Weymouth Relief Road in Dorset which continues to offer an annual spectacle of wildflowers and butterflies.


There are c.200,00ha of roadside verges in the UK and all have potential to be better designed and managed for wildlife. This webinar examines how those involved with highway design and management can deliver more biodiversity on amenity grass verges at lower cost compared with traditional management. Low fertility soils are the key to success and these verges should be cheaper to maintain because there is less grass to cut in the first place.

Dorset Council has adopted the low fertility approach to construction and management of all its amenity grasslands as standard practice. Great results have been achieved in just a few years: the verges of the Weymouth Relief Road, constructed in 2011 with little or no topsoil, now support 30 species of butterfly and abundant orchids. Verges in towns and villages that used to be cut 6 or 7 times a year now require just 2 or 3, allowing common wildflowers to spread.

Knowledge Level

Suitable for all

Group Booking Information 

The group booking option allows you to share the webinar with up to 10 people. You only need to purchase one ticket and then share the joining information with the selected people. Please email with the names of those who you are sharing the link with.


Tickets Person(s) Price
Group Bookings (Members only) 1 £20.00
Member Ticket 1 £10.00
Non Member Ticket 1 £20.00