Our new review paper about the challenges and opportunities of grassland restoration on roadsides


In our latest article, we look at a special case of grassland habitat restoration: roadside verges.

Valkó, O., Fekete, R., Molnár V., A., Halassy, M., Deák, B. (2023): Roadside grassland restoration: Challenges and opportunities in the UN decade on ecosystem restoration. Current Opinion in Environmental Science and Health 34:100490. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coesh.2023.100490

Why is grassland restoration important on roadsides? The global road network is more than 64 million km long and growing, with road verges occupying nearly 1% of the land area of developed countries. These are vast areas that are generally not suitable for industrial, agricultural, or other uses, and can provide opportunities for habitat restoration and establishing ecological corridors. The ideal situation for road managers is to establish a low-input, low-maintenance, permanent vegetation adapted to the habitat conditions on the roadside. In many biogeographical regions, roadside verges can provide suitable habitat for drought-tolerant grassland species native to the region, so a well-designed grassland restoration can be an ideal solution from both a conservation and a road management perspective. In the article, we highlight the synergies between these two approaches and the opportunities and constraints of grassland restoration in roadsides with native species. The specific habitat conditions of roadside verges and how grassland restoration on roadside verges differs from other grassland management interventions are discussed. We compare the success of seeding with commonly used commercial seed mixtures and with seed mixtures of native species, and suggest criteria for the selection of appropriate plant species, as well as key research areas to be investigated in the future.

Special characteristics of roadside environments. Photo credits: Attila  Molnár V. (A-G), Szabolcs Kis (H) and Réka Fekete (I).
Special characteristics of roadside environments. Photo credits: Attila Molnár V. (A-G), Szabolcs Kis (H) and Réka Fekete (I).


Restoring near-natural grasslands on roadsides is an excellent opportunity to support native biodiversity and provide ecosystem services that benefit the safety and functionality of road networks. Although several best practices and case studies are available on biodiversity-friendly roadside revegetation measures, their application is quite scarce, and, in practice, ecological aspects are rarely considered. To restore and preserve diverse and native roadside vegetation, we suggest (1) facilitating discussion, cooperation, and knowledge transfer between ecologists and agencies responsible for roadside vegetation management, (2) prioritizing the use of native plant species in roadside restoration and revegetation, as well as increasing regional capacities for native seed production, (3) supporting the application of biodiversity-friendly management practices of roadside vegetation, and (4) inventorying and conserving remnant semi-natural roadside grasslands.