A Canal is a green corridor, rich in wildlife, a natural magnet for a very wide range of flora and fauna.
The Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust ensures that in each restoration project, sustainability plays a key role in its planning and development.
Examples of this can be seen on each of our sites. Our motto – Working together in the present to revive the past and secure a better future shows the very essence of sustainability. We want to leave a green and pleasant waterway for future generation to enjoy. We are still learning how to do this extensively, but we have already made a lot of progress to this end.
Building the otter holt
In an attempt to encourage otters back to the banks of the River Leadon, a project was designed to provide them with a ready-made otter holt. A team of volunteers from local company, Marlborough Sterling, took up the challenge to help build the otter holt.
Although, very shy creatures, they have been sited a number of times at Over, and paw prints and the odd fish being left half eaten on the canal side suggest they are using the holt provided.
The osier (willow) beds
History tells us that one of the Canal cargoes carried on the H & G Canal was willow. This has a number of uses from basketry to cricket bats. One of our green-fingered volunteers, Mike Bowden, took up the challenge to grow a number of different varieties of willow along the banks of the Leadon. He now supplies willow to a number of customers.
This includes a local school who made a ‘Wigaloo’ from the willows at Over Basin in their school grounds for their children to play in. Mike Bowden is growing a number of willow varieties.
Tree management and planting
Trees are not only fundamental to our wellbeing and quality of life, but they form part of the overall landscape and their presence has many different benefits depending on how the land is used.
The green corridor of any Canal offers a fantastic habitat for wildlife is managed correctly. In this of course, trees play a vital role. The H&G CT policy is to maintain and improve its tree stock on each site. Regular tree surveys are carried out to ensure that trees are safe. Branches shed, decayed timber, fallen trees, split branches etc. are all dealt with by either our volunteers or when necessary professional tree surgeons.
Hundreds of new trees and hedgerows are planted on each restorations site using always using species indigenous in the location. A successful bid to the Woodland Trust for a Jubilee Wildlife Tree Pack increased the number of trees planted at Yarkhill to some 820.
Over Basin is proving to be an ideal location for a local apiarist to locate four hives. The wide range of flora around the basin provides the bees with an excellent supply of pollen for the production of their popular honey.
Bee hives at Over Basin.
We encourage wild birds to each of our sites with a range of nesting boxes and locations. Many of the boxes prove popular with the local birds, in particular blue tits and coal tits. At Over it is the green woodpeckers who have found some of them of particular interest and tend to do a little ‘remodeling’ of some of the boxes.
Swans are regular nesters at Oxenhall and moorhens are attracted to nest on a ‘floating island’ at Over Basin.
Flora of the waterway
One of our volunteers, John Chappell, has written a regular popular column in our H&G CT magazine, The Wharfinger, providing the history of the plants and including useful information about to their medicinal properties.