Community orchard boosting wildlife and combats flood risk

A new waterside community orchard and woodland has been planted along a canal towpath near Bolton, on a slope between the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal and the River Irwell, to improve biodiversity and help protect the area from flooding.

Three men holding trees Tree planting with Chris Nash, Tom Bruce, Tom King Nob End

We are working with the Environment Agency and volunteers from the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society to enhance the local environment and combat flood risk for residents around Prestolee and Nob End Locks.

The project

The £8,800 project has involved covering two hectares of scrubland with fruit trees to improve soil stability, increase biodiversity and limit the impact of harmful non-native species, like giant hogweed.

Funded by a grant of £8,000 from the Environment Agency, 50 large ‘statement’ trees, plus smaller trees and shrubs, have been planted on the slope between the canal and the river.

A fantastic natural solution

Our ecologist Tom King said: “This is a fantastic natural solution to improving the local environment and protecting the area from flooding. Roots from the trees will help to bind the soil together and absorb run-off, slowing down the flow of water during periods of heavy rainfall. It will also help to improve biodiversity along the two waterways and eventually provide free fruit to local residents – a win-win project for everyone!”

Adam Chapman, from the Environment Agency, commented: “Prestolee Locks, adjacent to Nob End Site of Scientific Interest in Bolton, was selected as part of a nationwide programme of tree planting to protect the water environment. A thousand trees have been planted at the Nob End Community Woodland, which will help to reduce erosion of the river banks, act as a sponge to soak up rainwater and improve the visual impact of the landscape.”

Chris Nash, fundraising officer at Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society added: “This is a great example of the environmental benefits for our local community which can be achieved when the Canal & River Trust and the canal society work together on a project.”

The Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal

The Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal has been derelict for many years but several sections remain in water, providing wonderful walking and cycling routes, and great spots for fishing. The canal originally ran north from Salford on the River Irwell to Prestolee, near Little Lever, where it split into two, with the main line continuing to Bury and a branch heading northwest to Bolton.

Some sections have been partly restored by dedicated volunteers from the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society and there are wider aspirations to bring more of the canal back to life.