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The charity making life better by water

Iolo Williams

Welsh naturalist, broadcaster, public speaker, and author Iolo Williams has spent more than 30 years working in conservation.

Iolo is well recognised for being a popular presenter on the Springwatch, Autumnwatch, and Winterwatch teams as well as for presenting BBC 2 programmes including Wild Wales, Rugged Wales, and Great Welsh Parks.

Iolo wants to promote the important roles canals play in providing habitats for nature.

  • Read the film transcript

    As we are all very aware these days, we’re losing a lot of our valuable wildlife habitat right across the country because of urbanisation, because of intensive forestry and agriculture, pollution, and so on. And what it means is that our 200 year old canals are becoming increasingly important for wildlife. You’ve only got to look at them, look at the mature hedgerow behind me. You’ve got the bankside vegetation, you’ve got the canal itself, and on the far shore, some mature trees. It’s invaluable for wildlife right across the country, but in particular, in our urban areas.

    The Canal & River Trust, well, it looks after 2,000 miles of waterways like this, and they are now asking for your help. They’re asking you to take part in Tap That Habitat game and also the canal habitat survey, a huge citizen science project. And once they’ve gathered all that information, they’re then hoping to be able to identify the most valuable areas for wildlife, so they can better manage it for all of our threatened species.

    So, please, do your bit to help canals and visit the Canal & River Trust website. Thank you very much for taking part.

What do you like about spending time by canals and rivers?

I run along the Montgomery Canal at least twice a week when I'm at home and it really helps me to recharge my battery whilst staying alert to the wealth of wildlife around me. I never run with headphones because there's so much to see and hear.

Why is the work of Canal & River Trust so important?

The canals and towpaths have to be sensitively managed to achieve the full potential for wildlife & people. This is where the work of the Canal & River Trust is so important. It can be a difficult task to get it right but the Trust does a great job.

What are your hopes for the charity over the next 10 years?

Over the next 10 years, I would like to see wildlife using our canals and waterways as corridors and moving into the inner cities. Over half the people in the UK now live in urban areas so it's important that they can walk the towpaths and see otters, kingfishers, orange-tip butterflies and cuckooflowers even in the heart of Birmingham and London.

Which is your favourite canal?

My favourite canal is the Montgomery Canal. It's very close to home and is home to some amazing wildlife. During lockdown, it was a godsend!

Last Edited: 29 February 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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