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Rare aquatic plants protected in Yorkshire Canal

Dozens of rare aquatic plants along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Yorkshire are being encouraged to flourish, thanks to our tree management project.

We've worked in partnership with Natural England and Leeds City Council to clear overgrown vegetation in a number of locations at Bramley Fall Park and Armley Park. These form part of a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), protecting the canal from Aire Valley Marina to just north of Calverley village.

Excellent alkaline water quality, low pollution levels and a canal bed of rich puddle clay have combined to create the perfect environment for a wide range of aquatic plants and animals. The canal contains a large number of fresh water sponges and plants such as hair-like pondweed, flowering rush and arrowhead, some of which are nationally scarce.

Tip top condition

Tom King, an ecologist with the Canal & River Trust, explained: “The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the best example of a slow-flowing, fresh water habitat in Yorkshire and we have a duty to keep it in tip top condition. Over the years, vegetation along the canal bank has grown and gradually put a lot of the canal into shade which is not good for the aquatic plants living underneath. They need direct sunlight to flourish and die back without it.

“Too much vegetation at the water's edge is also not good for the integrity of the canal structure, so we have tried to remove small trees, shrubs and non-native species, and leave the large oak trees. In Bramley Fall Park we have also thinned out an area of woodland to create a new light, airy clearing for people to enjoy.”

Together with Natural England we will monitor the Leeds & Liverpool Canal over the next few years to record any changes and also carry out a comprehensive survey of the canal flora.

We'd also like to assemble a team of volunteers to help with the environmental monitoring and practical work to help the aquatic plants. If you would like to find out more about volunteering with us to help survey the canal please contact Tom King on 077177 302667 or email [email protected].

Last Edited: 10 April 2015

photo of a location on the canals
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