Nottingham City Council is working with over 100 community wild.NG volunteers to pilot a pioneering herbicide-free approach to managing city streets with the help of local residents

In what’s thought to be the first scheme of its kind, wild.NGis taking the lead on managing plant growth on some residential streets without spraying herbicides and to encourage the growth of pollinator friendly plants.

The pilot is taking place in 53 streets around the Sherwood, Carrington and Basford areas, involving 128 Wildlife Champion Volunteers who have pledged to help nature on their street.

The innovative approach is part of the council’s ambitious Carbon Neutral 2028 targets by reducing travel for operatives to these streets to treat the areas and also by increasing greening on streets. It also links to the biodiversity aims of the city through creating urban greening, encouraging pollinators such as bees and butterflies and improving connectivity between habitats within the city.

The council has been reducing its use of herbicides, but still uses them at least twice a year to halt the growth of plants in streets across the city. However, as well as killing plants, herbicides can cause harm to insects such as bees, butterflies, hoverflies and moths, which in turn can impact bats, birds and other wildlife which all rely upon healthy ecosystems and plant life.

This project pilots removing the use of herbicides in agreed locations and using Wildlife Champion Volunteers to keep streets cared for by removing problem plants if they cause damage, block drains or are a hazard.

City Council Portfolio for Environment, Energy & Waste, Cllr Sally Longford, said: “This pilot scheme shows that we are taking a fresh approach to managing streets and wildlife as part of our actions towards carbon neutrality. We’re keen to see how this trial goes and to see if other communities want to take a similar approach on their streets.

“We are open to ideas like this which encourage wildlife, reduce the use of vehicles and chemicals and help to engage communities in taking action over the look and feel of their streets and neighbourhoods.”

Trish Evans from Wild.NG said: “This pilot is pioneering and so critical for us to create wildlife friendly streets in Nottingham, healthier streets, and residential spaces, which are beneficial to wildlife and beneficial to people.  We have been overwhelmed with the swell of local and national support for this pilot and the amount of volunteers who have registered because they deeply care for wildlife where they live and want to make this a success. Already we are seeing so many benefits to our wild.NG work and this project. Communities and nature are connecting ‘street by street’ and to witness the growing sense of pride and passion is inspiring and progressive.  We welcome this opportunity to work closely with Nottingham City Council as they test alternative, safer and kinder, approaches to managing urban nature, which are glyphosate free, where people and families live.” 

Wildlife champion Helen Shere from Basfordsaid: “I noticed during lockdown how all the pavements in my area were full of wildflowers, butterflies and bees and I realised that because of the lockdown, they hadn’t been sprayed with weed killer.

“I was amazed at how beautiful it was to have these corridors of flowers along otherwise grey pavements. From my point of view, a greener city has a positive effect to my mental health, and I’m sure that’s the case for many others too.”