Life on the edge: roadside vegetation, biodiversity and ecosystem services

Olivia Richardson


Start Year: 2015, second cohort

Host University: The University of Sheffield

Department: Animal & Plant Sciences

Supervisors: Professor Philip Warren, University of Sheffield; Dr. Karl Evans, University of Sheffield; Professor Nigel Dunnett, University of Sheffield.

Twitter: @orichardson12

olivia richardson

Academic profile


MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation – University of Leeds, UK, 2011-2012

BSc in Biology – University of Leeds, UK, 2008-2011

Work experience

2014-2015 Research Support Officer, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, UK.

2013 Assistant Ecologist, Quants Environmental Ltd

2013 Self-employed ecological surveyor

2012-2013 Research Assistant, University of Leeds, UK.


Skills and relevant qualifications

Fieldwork skills

Experience using ArcGIS & QGIS

Managing and developing content for a website


ACCE Ph.D. Research topic

Life on the edge: roadside vegetation, biodiversity, and ecosystem services

By 2050, it is predicted that 66% of the world’s population will live in urban areas and in the UK, this is predicted to be 89% of the population (United Nations, 2014). As urbanisation becomes more prevalent, it is increasingly important to assess the biodiversity and ecosystem services that urban areas provide. Ecosystem services are the benefits the ecosystem provides to humans (MEA, 2005) and according to the UK NEA, 30% of the UK’s ecosystem services are in decline. The green space alongside roads provides habitat for plant and animal biodiversity. Roadside habitats can have a role in delivering ecosystem services such as carbon storage, mitigating noise, erosion control and enhancing the aesthetic value of the environment. However, relatively little is known about the ecological value of roadside habitats and how they can be enhanced. This project is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and Amey, the contractors that manage approximately 2.9 million sqm of verge along roadsides in Sheffield. This project aims to develop a better understanding of three overarching questions: 1. What biodiversity and ecosystem services do roadside habitats deliver? 2. How does current management of such areas affect biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem services? 3. Are there cost-effective changes to management which enhance the ecological value of roadside habitats?