Exeter: Busy Topsham Road to become colourful ‘wildlife highway’

One of the busiest roads in Exeter is set to become a ‘wildlife highway’ thanks to the work of a leading local conservation organisation. 

Topsham Road carries thousands of vehicles in and out of the city each day, along with all the noise and pollution these create.

But now the route, with others, is set to become amore wildlife-friendly and colourful thanks to a joint initiative between the charity Devon Wildlife Trust and Exeter City Council.

Verges have been dug and then sown with wildflower seed mixes.

In weeks, the areas of bare soil are set to become vibrant bursts of colour provided by a mix of wildflowers.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Emily Spraggon said: “The hope is that by the summer people travelling along Topsham Road will be able to follow a wildlife highway created from wildflowers and more nature-friendly managed grass verges.”

Elsewhere, the management of grass verges will be altered – leaving them to grow longer.

The impact of both moves will be to boost habitat for local wildlife, especially pollinating insects including bees, moths and butterflies.

The measures to help wildlife are only being done in places where it is safe to do so – and away from pedestrian crossings and busy road junctions.

Emily added: “The meadow flowers and grasses will attract insects such as bees, beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies and moths.  These in turn will provide food for birds, bats and other animals.

“If we can better connect the big green spaces in our city such as Valley Parks by creating more nature-friendly corridors then we should all be able to see more wildlife near where we live and work.”

The initiative is part of the Exeter Wild City project, which for the past decade has seen Devon Wildlife Trust and Exeter City Council working with local communities.

This partnership has produced a network of other wildflower areas, such as the colourful ones seen each summer along Prince Charles Drive and at Moor Lane roundabout.

Mini-meadows have also been planted in many of the city’s parks and school grounds, along with several community orchards.

As part of this pilot scheme, residents and businesses along Topsham Road and South Street will be invited to participate in creating three miles of new wildlife corridors on the edges of their streets.

Suggestions for action include planting pollinator friendly window boxes, sowing a mini-meadow, planting a fruit tree, putting in a small pond, allowing hedgehog access into gardens.

These and other ideas can be found on the Devon Wildlife Trust website.

The charity is giving away a limited number of seed sachets to participants who live along Topsham Road and South Street.

People wanting these can apply at the ‘Exeter Wild City’ page of Devon Wildlife Trust’s website.

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