Nottingham City Council is collaborating with Nottingham’s Wild.NG project to extend its successful pilot of a herbicide-free approach to managing city streets, to cover the whole of Sherwood Ward. This is thanks to a growing network of active residents who are volunteer Wildlife Champions in the area.
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.
Based on the success of last year’s pilot on 53 streets around the Sherwood, Carrington and Basford areas, with over 150 Wildlife Champion Volunteers pledging to help nature on their street, there is plenty of opportunity for new growth, wildlife and community ambition in the area.
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 City Council is aware of the impacts caused by using herbicides around the city and is taking steps to reduce its usage. The impacts are not only on plant life but on the insects, birds, bats and other wildlife which depend on plants and on a healthy ecosystem. Herbicides are no longer used on parks and through this pilot the council is exploring a reduction in usage in residential areas as well. As a last resort it may be necessary to still use herbicide but only on those problem plants such as Knotweed where there is no other treatment available. The process of removing problem plants will be dealt with by Nottingham City Council. Wild.NG and Volunteer Wildlife Champions will continue to offer support and engagement where needed on their residential street.
Portfolio Holder for Energy, Environment, Waste Services & Parks, Cllr Corall Jenkins, 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 extension to the pilot area is positive and so critical to help create wildlife friendly streets in Nottingham, healthier for nature, and for our community and residents. We have been overwhelmed with the swell of local and national support for our first year’s 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.”