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News article created on 29 August 2013

HSBC staff help to create a wildlife haven in Solihull

An army of volunteers from one of the world’s largest banking organisations is currently helping to transform Henwood Tip, a former canal dredging site, into a wildlife haven alongside the Grand Union Canal in Solihull.

Volunteers from HSBC in the West Midlands are spending one day a month at Henwood Tip near Catherine De Barnes, where they are planting a whole host of wildlife loving plants in an effort to create new homes for bugs and mini beasts.

The former dredging site is rich in nutrients and is an ideal mini nature reserve alongside the canal. The site will be used as a plant nursery to grow shrubs such as hazel and hornbeam, which can be used to help repair canal banks and improve the biodiversity along the waterway. A community orchard will also be planted close to the site with a number of old English varieties of fruit trees which, once established, could provide fresh fruit to the local community via the local food bank network.

Hibernaculum

Murray Woodward, volunteer co-ordinator for the Canal & River Trust, said: “The volunteers from HSBC have been really busy over the last few months and already I have noticed a huge change at the site.

“Recently the volunteers created a hibernaculum, which is like a hotel for bugs and reptiles, by stacking logs and wood on top of each other, which provides shelter for small critters, snakes and newts.  We are also planning to install a number of bird and bat boxes and create a real secret garden along the waterways.”

Efforts paying off

Victoria Willmott from HSBC, said: “Everyone in the office loves coming out along the canal and helping to transform Henwood Tip and we have each donated one day a month to help the project. When we first started there was quite a lot of work to do but over the months our efforts are really starting to pay off.  Since we’ve started to tidy up the site we have noticed an increase in the amount of wildlife fluttering along the canal which was brilliant to see and has really spurred us on.”

Peter Mathews CMG, chair of the West Midlands partnership, added: “It’s great that HSBC have donated their time to come and transform this part of the canal and I’m delighted they got involved. This volunteering activity will benefit the wildlife that live along the waterways and also make the canal more attractive for the many walkers, cyclists and boaters that visit this part of the waterway each year.’