Wolverhampton Water Vole Corridor

Staffordshire & Worcestershire CanalStaffordshire & Worcestershire Canal

The Wolverhampton Water Vole Corridor project, which is supported by the Birmingham & Black County Nature Improvement Area, has helped to preserve, enhance and create vegetated banks along the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, which provide important habitats for a number of species such as Water Voles.

Works to improve three sites on the Canal which run through Wolverhampton began in October 2012. The sites are; Wightwick Lock to Wightwick Mill Lock (adjacent to Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve), Rakegate Bridge to Marsh Lane Bridge (on the approaches to i54 technology park) and Meccano Bridge to Tunstal Water Bridge (adjacent to Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve).

The project has focused on these sites as they had a lower standard of biodiversity as a result of inappropriate bank construction. In order to prevent current trench sheet piling remaining a barrier to some species inhabiting the area, bioengineering techniques have been employed to rectify the problem via the installation of coir rolls, geotextiles and plants such as the Yellow flag Iris, Branched Bur-reed and Reed canary Grass to encourage a more diverse plant community. Helping to manage vegetated edges of waterbodies, this project has helped to provide a more continuous habitat for Water Voles, Otters, Reed Buntings, Kingfishers, Common Frogs, Common Toads, Grass Snakes, Dragonflies & Damselflies and White-clawed Crayfish.

Work on this project also helped to address issues with bank erosion and siltation of the canal, providing aesthetic improvement and preventing environmental damage caused by visiting boats. The Wolverhampton Water Vole Corridor project complements the NIA’s objectives as it has helped to increase the amount of wildlife habitat in the NIA and improved the quality and linkage of corridors across the NIA.