Creating wetland habitat for endangered species such as the water vole is very important but just as crucial is making a corridor where species can move from one habitat to another along the margins and hedgerows
Canals have considerable value and importance for natural heritage and wildlife. They now provide significant wildlife habitats colonised by many plants and animals. Canal environments can be very bio-diverse with fish, invertebrate species, submerged and aquatic plants, plus birds and waterside mammals.
The route of the canal has a set of natural landscapes including broad lowland agricultural land, the chalk downs of Wiltshire and Oxfordshire and the limestone of the Cotswolds. Each of these landscapes has its own ecologies and other natural environmental features. There are also built landscapes varying from villages and small towns to the major urban centre of Swindon. The canal, when restored, will provide a corridor linking these various landscapes and provide a route for the movement and migration of wildlife, as well as for the social benefits of local communities and visitors. The current project to open the towpath along the full length of the canal is a stage in this process.
The Trust follows the key environmental objectives of the Canal and River Trust and others involved in the restoration and operation of the country’s waterways. This is to provide for the long-term sustainability and conservation of the canal environment in its wider landscape setting and to plan and manage restoration works in an environmentally sensitive way. These aims are shared by the Trust and our partners in the Wiltshire Swindon and Oxfordshire Canal Partnership.
Restoration can be undertaken whilst preserving and enhancing wildlife; bridges can have bat roosts built in, locks can have crevices for crayfish, banks can be soft to allow water vole burrowing as well as steep in sections to allow kingfisher burrowing. Wide fringes of vegetation not only reduce erosion from boat wash but provide nesting habitat for waterfowl.