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News article created on 6 March 2015

Floating tractor creates wetland along Oxford Canal

We've teamed up with the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust to create a new wetland haven for amphibians and water-loving plants at a secluded lake beside the Oxford Canal.

Part of the project is clearing openings in the reed beds using an amphibious harvester, known as a ‘Truxor’ that floats across the surface of Dukes Lock Pond, north of Wolvercote, Oxford.

The Truxor works by cutting meandering channels within the reed bed which will help provide shallow areas for aquatic insects such as great diving beetles, dragonfly larvae and water scorpions, as well as open areas for fish that attract the feeding birds and otters.

Once cut the reeds are then cleared from the water using a rake attachment on the Truxor and stacked at the margins of the reed bed to create special habitats for toads, frogs, newts and water insects.

Secret garden 

The nine month project to restore Dukes Lock Pond costs £9,000, and is funded by donations to the Canal & River Trust, and from money secured by Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust from the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment.

Penny Foster, from the Canal & River Trust, said; “Duke’s Lock Lake is a real secret garden along the canal and is home to a huge variety of animals and insects so it’s a great spot for nature lovers. Over the years it had become a little overgrown and looked a little sad so it’s great that we’ve got the opportunity to open up the water space, and make the lake a much nicer place for people and waterway critters to visit.”

Erin Murton, managing the project at Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust, said: “Dukes Lock Pond is a Local Wildlife Site, designated because of the very large area of reeds that create special habitats for dragonflies, amphibians and birds such as kingfisher, grasshopper warbler, roosting starlings and cuckoo. We’ve also spotted signs of otters coming to the pond to feed.

“People might wonder why we’re clearing some of the reeds when they’re so important, but there was a danger of them overwhelming the lake, which would mean less space for the animals that rely on this special and rare habitat in Oxfordshire.

“We’ve been working with Oxfordshire Conservation Volunteers and a local contractor to pollard the large willow trees and clear away a lot of the undergrowth that had blocked the entrance to Dukes Lock Pond. We will also be improving the bankside habitats to encourage more wild flowers.”