The UK’s network of canals and rivers provide homes for all kinds of plants and wildlife. The waterway network and its towpaths create valuable green corridors, connecting various wildlife sites and habitats. This allows animals to move freely, and brings the heart of the countryside into urban areas.
Waterway banks and towpaths are particularly valuable for biodiversity, providing habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including dragonflies, water birds, water voles, crayfish, and otters. Even the narrowest towpath can support a range of animals and plants and be an important oasis for local wildlife in urban areas.
Perhaps an underestimated part of waterway structures are built environments, like cuttings, embankments and the impressive range of bridges, tunnels, weirs, cottages and warehouses that characterise our canal network. Whether it be wildflowers on grassland or bats in the buildings, our structures support a diverse range of animals and plants, including white clawed crayfish, freshwater sponges, and nesting birds.
Next time you travel, why not download the Spotters Guide to Waterway Wildlife from the Canal & River Trust here and see how many wonderful creatures you can spot while messing about on the water.