Roadside verges play a critical part in the environment, and offer health benefits, according to an international study.
The research, studying parks and gardens in 56 cities globally, found similarities between urban green spaces around the world.
Roadside verges contribute a range of important microbial communities critical for sustaining productive ecosystem services, such as filtering pollutants and insulating from carbon dioxide.
The study from Australia’s University of New South Wales - the first global assessment of the microbiome in city parks - was published in Science Advances.
Study co-author Professor David Eldridge said: “We think of roadsides as being barren, but we found a great variety of different microbes in some roadside verges; they are not barren wastelands at all.”
Parks and gardens make up most of the open spaces for recreational sport and social engagement, and help to curb pollution, reduce noise, and lower air temperatures.
They also played an important part during COVID lockdowns when people were unable to venture further for green space.
With 68 per cent of the global population set to live in cities by 2050, there is an ongoing importance of green spaces for mental and physical wellbeing.
The results mirror another study which found as much microbial diversity in New York’s Central Park as there is globally.
Dr Eldridge said plenty of parks were needed to sustain a bunch of ecosystem services in urban environments.
He added: “Parks are not the homogenised ecological deserts that we think they are – they are living ecosystems that do amazing things.”