The whole of the Montgomery Canal in Wales is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Covering nearly 22 miles and following a phased construction period, this welsh canal section opened eventually in 1797, connecting rural towns of the Welsh Marshes, such as Welshpool, to the commercial markets on the mainline network. Its key function was to allow the transport of lime for agricultural purposes.
This rural gem eventually went in to decline in 1936, following a breach at Perry Aqueduct and was officially abandoned in 1944. The lack of commercial traffic allowed nature to take over, with rare aquatic plants, including the internationally important Floating water-plantain, otters and many species of damselflies/dragonflies making it their stronghold.
12 years later in 1956, part of the welsh section was designated a SSSI by the former Nature Conservancy (Natural Resources Wales today) and the whole canal was fully protected for nature eventually by the year 2000, following a series of nature conservation designations. The Special Area of Conservation (SAC) designation makes this canal one of the best wildlife sites in Europe for floating water-plantain.
Starting in 1969, a series of restoration projects with major input from voluntary groups, local authorities and the Trust have proceeded to restore 11 miles in Wales back to navigation.
To help protect habitats with increased siltation and shading, along non-navigable sections.
Several nature reserves have been created alongside the canal, to allow a range of rare aquatic plants, that may be vulnerable to boat movements, the chance to thrive. The reserves include redundant arms and basins, as well as purpose built sites such as Wern Claypits. These sites are sensitively managed by the Trust with the support from local volunteer groups.
Thanks to the support though funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery:
This SSSI starts near Llanymynech and wends its way down the Welsh border to near Aberbechan, just north east of Newtown.