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Rare water plant given a helping hand

The increasingly rare Floating Water Plantain, Luronium natans has received a major boost after more than 2,000 plants were introduced back into sections of the Rochdale and Huddersfield Canals.

Volunteers, including members of the Rochdale Field Naturalist Society have helped us to protect these plants, which are native only to Europe and have been in decline since the turn of the century.

Canals in the north west of the UK are now one of its remaining strongholds after it spread along the canal system during the 19th century. The areas being improved are Failsworth to Littleborough on the Rochdale Canal and Ashton-under-Lyne to Mossley on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Both these areas are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to their varied plant populations. The Rochdale Canal is also designated a Special Area of Conservation due to the presence of Floating Water Plantain.

The project – part of a wider scheme that also takes in Birmingham's 35 mile canal network - was made possible through a grant of £249,000 over three years from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and £127,000 donated from players of People's Postcode Lottery.

Rhys Wynne, Community Roots Project Leader at the Canal & River Trust, said: “We had a fantastic response from the local community to help us with this special project so I can't thank them enough. Many of the plants natural habitats have been lost or lacked management and the canal network has become a vital corridor for a huge variety of plant species and wildlife.

“Other projects will include linking isolated populations of plant species to create habitats more resilient to environmental change, removing invasive and non-native plant species and improving water quality. There's lots of ways local people can help this project so I'd love them to get in touch and help protect this wonderful water space.”

Those wanting to get involved in the project should contact Rhys on [email protected] or 07917 241104.

Last Edited: 20 August 2015

photo of a location on the canals
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