The Canal & River Trust charity has launched a local appeal to improve a valuable wetland nature reserve next to the stunning 18th century Lune Aqueduct on the Lancaster Canal that will support the recovery of frogs, toads, newts and other species that depend on water to feed, breed, drink and shelter.
Constructed on land beside the aqueduct in 2013 to help halt the decline in the number and quality of wildlife-rich ponds over the past 50 years, nine new ponds were created. These quickly established and have provided an important boost for biodiversity alongside the canal. The quiet shallow waters quickly established, attracting over 127 plant and animal species, including water lilies, plantain, mint, dragonflies, beetles, bats, butterflies, frogs, newts and dunnocks.
Over time the ponds have naturally filled up with fast-growing plants, like bulrush, reed and pendulous sedge and now need some care and attention. The Trust hopes to raise funds needed to remove invasive plants and repair the pond liners where roots have broken through to allow water to drain away.
The Canal & River Trust’s crowd-funding campaign seeks to raise £5,000 to rescue the ponds this winter. With match-funding from the Trust, this will help pay for the removal of vegetation, plus re-profiling and re-lining the ponds with clay, to make them more robust and friendly to amphibians. The ponds will then be re-planted with native plants to provide food and shelter for the dozens of species.
Diane Rollin, Canal & River Trust ecologist, explains: “At a time when nature is in crisis and so much UK wildlife is in decline, it’s important to ensure that our waterways provide the best possible natural habitats to allow biodiversity to thrive.
“Over the past 50 years, the number and quality of ponds across the country has reduced dramatically, leading to huge losses in the number of frogs, toads, newts and other species that depend on water to feed, breed, drink and shelter.
“Water really is life. And for species like frogs, smooth newts and dragonflies, the still waters of a pond are vastly preferable to the busy activity and flow found on a canal. We urgently need to raise the money this winter to complete the works while water wildlife is hibernating or dormant. Then, when spring arrives, it will have a new home to move into right away.”
The 1797 stone aqueduct is one of the wonders of the waterways and carries the Lancaster Canal 52 feet above the River Lune valley. It is a popular tourist attraction for walkers, cyclists, anglers and boaters. The Canal & River Trust aim is to make this iconic site even more amazing to for both people and wildlife.
To donate to the Lune Aqueduct pond restoration appeal, please go to https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/lune