The charity making life better by water

Incorporating nature into the design of new structures

When designing the structural elements of this programme, we will be looking to include gains for the ecology of the area wherever possible.

Aston Nature Reserve, Shropshire

Bridges

This could be anything from including bat roost spaces within the bridges that we build, to ensuring that the corridor of water is not interrupted to allow continued safe use by otters.

In addition, the construction of the bridges will involve landscaping of the surrounding area. In this landscaping we will incorporate as many enhancements as possible for the ecology of the area including planting of species rich hedgerows and areas of trees or scrub that are reflective of the species found in the area naturally. Any amenity areas to be planted up will use a palette of native plants with value to pollinators.

Nature reserves

There is also potential for us to be deliver up to 6.8 hectares of new nature reserves with open water habitat. These would be located along the stretch of canal between the Llanymynech area and Welshpool. The purpose of this additional habitat would be to help sustain populations of the important aquatic species, where it is decided that the in-channel measures we are taking would need the extra support.

The regulatory process would require that any reserves built would need to be established prior to boating being reintroduced into the canal. The condition would then be assessed at the time navigation was proposed, informed by rigorous monitoring of the ecological features. Navigation would only be allowed if the species are in good condition.

Species specific design

Our previous experience with nature reserve construction has taught us a lot. An open water body design with shelving from the outside to a depth similar to that of a canal in the centre, helps to control the encroachment of the emergent fringe. It also creates a habitat where some movement and flow is built in, which assists the smaller aquatic plants found submerged in the water, to disperse and colonise.

We would be building on this design for our newest reserves, going one step further to create a mosaic of different niches within this open water by designing a more complex floor. This would provide sheltered and exposed spots, deeper, shallower, shaded and sunny spots, all designed around the species that we want to flourish there and their natural niches.

Last Edited: 30 June 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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