Special Places for special wildlife
A NEW PROJECT has been launched to improve vulnerable wildlife habitats around the country’s canals.
The Making Special Places for Nature project spans reservoirs and canals in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Greater Manchester, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Berkshire and mid-Wales. It will benefit water shrews, voles, otters, bats, dragonflies and other rare fauna and flora.
The Canal & River Trust, which cares for 63 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, is appealing to volunteers to join in this mammoth task and hopes to encourage many residents, particularly the young, to roll up their sleeves and get involved in improving their own local nature reserve.
Made possible thanks to a £350,000 award from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, the project will involve a wide range of habitat protection work including bank restoration, shade removal and improvements in water quality.
The project will also assess the health and populations of various rare species including the shy water shrew, which was last subject to a national survey more than a decade ago.
“The Eurasian water shrew and white-clawed crayfish are among a wide range of indigenous species which need an extra helping hand,” said Canal & River Trust ecologist Stuart Moodie. “Their natural habitats are threatened by run-off from agricultural fertilisers and invasive plants and animals.
“Increasing the growth of aquatic plants helps encourage insects and invertebrates which in turn promotes healthy populations of fish and small mammals. Biodiversity is the key to a flourishing waterway.
“Getting local people involved in managing these reserves is a key priority. We would appeal to anyone who wants to get in touch with nature and play an important role in conserving their local area to contact us. This is a genuine chance to make a real difference.” For more information go to canalrivertrust.org.uk or ring 0303 040 4040.