News article created on 5 June 2017

Making special places for nature

Did you know we manage 63 of the UK's most important wildlife sites - Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)?

Huddersfield Narrow Canal, near Mossley, Tameside, Greater Manchester
  • They are particularly important for rare water plants and animals such as water voles, native crayfish, dragonflies, otters and even water shrews.
  • They range from canals in urban areas, to reservoirs and even disused rural canal arms
  • Most importantly our SSSI sites, although protected, are free for all to visit and enjoy

Important News - 10 SSSI sites have been highlighted for action!

Through the generous support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we have a programme of sensitive management that will see these 10 sites improve in their value for wildlife.

Nature will benefit, local communities will benefit and the Trust will benefit, as it will make our iconic network more robust and diverse for years to come.


So where are these sites and what are we doing?

They are located widely across the network from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in the North, Chesterfield Canal in the east, Montgomery Canal on the England & Wales border and Kennet & Avon Canal in the South, with the remainder in between.

We aim to improve wildlife habitat and water quality, provide information to communities who live close to the site and involve those communities in the care of the site.

Ashby Canal, Leicestershire
Water vole, water shrew, rare native white-clawed crayfish, 9 species of dragonfly and a range of water plants.
1 Km of new green bank protection installation by contractors and planted by volunteers, to prevent canal bank erosion and silt entering the canal, leading to water quality improvements.

Grantham Canal, Leicestershire
Many species of breeding birds, water insects and rare aquatic plants.
Invasive species control, weed management by volunteers and dredging carried out by contractors to improve water quality and provide more space for wildlife.

Kilby-Foxton Section, Grand Union Canal (Leicester Line)
Important community of rare Daubenton’s Bats in the Saddington Tunnel, plus rare aquatic plants and invertebrates.
Water quality improvement by shade reduction, vegetation clearance, hedge laying and coppicing which allows wildlife to thrive.

Chesterfield Canal, Nottinghamshire
Rare aquatic plants are located here. Work here involves, water quality survey to identify sites for improvement by reed bed creation, tree management and shade reduction. Damaging phosphates reduced by Phoslock water treatment.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal, Greater Manchester
Freshwater sponges, white-clawed crayfish, invertebrates and rare aquatic plants are located here. 
Works here involve water quality improvement by shade reduction, coppicing and vegetation clearance. Surveys carried out by local or student volunteers. Green spaces enhanced with aquatic planting.

Montgomery Canal, (2 sites) Powys and Shropshire
Rare protected aquatic plants, including floating water plantain (among one of the world’s best site), and several species of dragonflies are located here. 
Habitats will be enhanced by removal of silt, shade reduction, vegetation management, coppicing, removal of invasive plants. Disused Guilsfield Arm will be improved for wildlife. Volunteers will play key role at this site. 

Bittel Reservoir, Worcestershire
Breeding birds, insects and rare aquatic plants
Invasive species control, silt build up and water quality improved by coppicing, vegetation management. Improved habitat diversity with creation of ponds along the reservoir edge.

Belvide Reservoir, Staffordshire
Overwintering, migratory and breeding birds, aquatic plants and insects.
Silt build up and water quality improvement by coppicing, vegetation management.

Kennet & Avon Canal, Berkshire
Species of fish, damselflies and mayflies are located here. 
The Canal and the River Kennet flow through chalk landscape. Banks are being eroded by livestock leading to siltation. Installation of green bank protection will help to stabilise channel and vegetation removal improve effects of shading.

So where are we up to?

Wildlife and dredging surveys are taking place, some shade reduction through vegetation clearance has been completed and hedgerows have been managed.

We have a lot more work to do -  so watch this space for more updates.

Linda Butterworth 

Project Officer - Making special places for nature 

About this blog

The environment team

The Canal & River Trust has top team of committed experts and enthusiasts, who help to protect our waterway environment and improve it for both people and nature. Follow this blog to find out more about the hugely varied work they carry out.

See more blogs from this author