The A41 is the best BEE road in the Black Country

If you drive down the A41 near West Bromwich you may have noticed the wonderful display of wild flowers over the last few weeks. But unless you were looking hard you probably didn’t notice the 100s of rare bee-orchids that have spontaneously sprung up on the verges.

Simon Atkinson, Conservation Manager for The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, was sat in traffic on the Black Country New Road when he spotted the wildflowers and investigated further. He was amazed to see the rare flowers that can take years to root.

The Wildlife Trust and Sandwell Council are now working together to change the verge cutting regime to allow wildlife to thrive. The diverse wild meadows that have blossomed are attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators all of which make our environment healthier.

Simon Atkinson said:
‘The soils along this section of the Black Country New Road near to Albion Roundabout are very poor in nutrients as a result of the area’s industrial past. While low nutrients is bad news for gardeners who want to control what grows, it means delicate and rare flowers, like the bee orchid, that are normally forced out by aggressive nutrient demanding grasses, have space to grow. This is good news for wildflower species, better news for bees and butterflies who are in decline and need diverse species to survive, and great news for people who rely on the pollinators to grow our food’

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for highways Councillor David Hosell said:
“It’s great to see how a small change to when we mow the verges can have such a magnificent impact on flowers and wildlife. By holding off on mowing during late spring and summer, we’re giving these flowers – some of them rare like the bee orchid – the chance to flourish. We did this last year and it has reaped benefits for the local wildlife.”

As part of the Nature Improvement Area, a large-scale plan to improve habitats and greenspace so wildlife can thrive across the region funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Sandwell Council and the Trust are continuing to find ways of working that benefit us and wildlife.

Nature Improvement Area (NIA)
WTBBC played a pivotal role in Birmingham and the Black Country being designated as one of twelve, and the only urban, Nature Improvement Areas in 2012. The Trust leads more than 60 partners in delivering the NIA vision and in 2015 secured continuation funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. 

Successes include - 250 sites improved for nature, 220 hectares of woodland, meadow and heathland enhanced, 7km of hedgerow restored or created, 75 wetlands enriched all helped by over 5,000 volunteers

The work won the Trust the CIEEM NGO Impact Award 2017

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. They do this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change. 

The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK. They make grants of £30 - £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, children and young people, the environment and social change. They also operate a £26 million Finance Fund which invests in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit.You can read more here.