Turning over a new LEAF: Protecting the Canal Environment

Scotland’s canals are vibrant green corridors teeming with life. Running through some of the nation’s most heavily-populated areas, they’re vital spaces to escape the hubbub, de-stress and get away from it all – not to mention havens for some beautiful flora and fauna. There are 22 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) within 500 metres of the canals and, from conservation projects to fun and educational wildlife surveys, we make sure there’s plenty of wild action on the waterways.

They’re incredibly important environments and, with the help of our supporters and volunteers, we protect them for the people of Scotland to enjoy. Volunteers from our aptly-named LEAF group (also known as the slightly less catchy Local Environmental Action Force Group) have been flexing their green fingers on the Union and Forth & Clyde Canal this year and helping to bring the waterside and greenspace to life.

The team have already created a nature trail at The Helix’s parkland – home of the world’s largest equine sculptures and everything from hedgehogs and water vole to mute swans – and planted a wildflower meadow at the popular Westquarter Glen.

As well as the nature trail and wildflower meadow, they’ll be working on tree and vegetation management including planting fruit trees and removing invasive Himalayan Balsam as well as creating new paths and habitats. They’ll even be installing bat boxes for the pipistrelle and Daubenton’s bats that call the canals home.

Further north on the Caledonian Canal, we’ve been working with community groups, volunteers and schools joined together to plant native trees along the length of the waterway, from Inverness to Fort William. They’ve helped to create a forest of the future, planting 3,000 trees that will help safeguard and improve the environment of the canal for generations to come and provide a home for everything from the iconic red deer and squirrels to migrating woodpeckers.

Volunteering, whether with the LEAF group or any of our other teams, is a fantastic opportunity to get out and about, meet new friends, develop skills and make a genuine difference to the environment of your local canal. From bog gardens to bird boxes, volunteers of all ages and abilities work with us to give nature a helping hand – and enjoy some exercise in incredible environments along the way!

If you enjoy working outdoors and want to learn a raft of new environment and wildlife skills, get in touch today and see how you could help create a brighter future for the environments and wildlife of Scotland’s canals.