A Survey of Grassy Verges in County Wicklow

Oonagh Conway,  is a Masters Student at UCD who is looking for 50 sample grassy verge sites in County Wicklow in order to build up information about the kinds of wild plants present. The collation of information about our natural heritage is an improtant conservation tool, helping us to better understand our biodiversity and to target actions to protect it.

Wildlife habitats have become increasingly fragmented in recent decades due to intensification of agricultural practices under the Common Agricultural Policy. It is now rare to find dry meadows in Ireland that are only rarely fertilised and mown twice a year for hay.

This type of grassland is now thought to be best represented on grassy roadside verges and other marginal areas that are only occasionally mown or treated with herbicides. However, little data of vegetation assemblages in these habitats currently exists. This research project proposes to amend this situation by surveying a sample of approximately 50 grassy verges in Co. Wicklow and uploading the resulting data into the National Vegetation Database at the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

This grassy verge community data will then be compared with existing data from surveys of Dry Meadow Grasslands in Co. Wicklow. The results will then be analysed to determine similarities and differences between vegetation assemblages. The analysis will indicate whether grassy verges represent a distinct habitat or if their vegetation assemblages are representative of dry meadow assemblages and can serve as a reservoir for dry meadow grassland species. The surveys will be carried out in June and July 2013 and the results will be published in August 2013.

Looking for your help

If you can suggest any roadside verges that you know of which have a good variety of wildflowers, and/ or which have always been managed in a less intensive way (no herbicides), then please contact Oonagh directly at oonagh.conway@ucdconnect.ie

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