Enhancing the Birmingham Mainline Canal for Wildlife to Thrive

Enhancing the Birmingham Mainline Canal for Wildlife to Thrive

In November 2012 the Canal and Rivers Trust, with support from the Birmingham & Black Country Nature Improvement Area, started work on a project to improve the links between the Dudley and Birmingham canal networks. The 'Main Line Canal Wildlife Enhancement' project linked the Netherton Branch Canal, Gower Branch Canal and Sheepwash Urban Park Wildlife Sites to the heart of Birmingham via the canal network making it easier for wildlife to move freely. Along the way habitats were improved for birds, butterflies and bees to forage.

Contrast to Birmingham Mainline Canal following improvement works

Credit: Andy Slater

Damselflies enjoying the improved habitat on Birmingham Mainline Canal

Credit: @WTBBC

Canal side nature improvements in Birmingham City Centre have introduced 100m of marginal vegetation to once hard-edged sections of the canal. This was done by installing coir rolls planted with native species such as yellow iris, purple-loosestrife and water mint.

Volunteers also planted plugs of nectar rich plants/herbs and fruit trees across the network, to improve foraging for birds, butterflies and bees inhabiting the canal network.

The benefits to wildlife can already be seen with high numbers of dragonflies and damselflies now present in the area. 

500 of coir rolls installed
35 trees planted to create nectar rich linear orchard
additional canal planted with trees & shrubs
500 heather plants placed in neglected beds