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Letter to the editor: canal wildlife must be protected

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Sir, the evidence of the Canal Trust volunteers destroying wildlife habitats along the Stroud water canal is growing.

Their reed cutter boat is often along the canal destroying the vegetation along the banks, where birds and dragonflies nest and lay eggs.

The picture of the canal path from Bowbridge Lock was taken on 31 May looking beautiful with mallards enjoying the tranquillity. A few days later someone, presumably the Canal Trust, removed the vegetation all the way along to Thrupp and moorhens were seen searching for their young amongst the cut vegetation.

This obsession with tidiness is a national vandalism.

This should not be happening particularly when animals (water voles) and birds are nesting.

An experienced and professional ecologist should check all the canal banks before any work is done, and thermal imaging used as nest and baby chicks cannot be seen as they hide in the reeds. Also, the dragonfly larvae is under the water.

The canal is for all life and must not become a sterile basin devoid of wildlife. We live in a time of mass wildlife loss and it must be protected.

Lizzi Walton, Stroud.

A spokesperson for Cotswold Canals Trust replied: “Cotswold Canals Partners include many different organisations who are volunteering and working hard to maintain Stroud’s beautiful waterways, for example, in 2018 the partnership turned the town rubbish dump into the wonderful wildlife haven it is today, part of a £20m+ restoration that we now enjoy as a thriving watery landscape.

Canal route before construction | Letter to the editor: canal wildlife must be protected
Capel’s Mill prior to construction. Picture: Cotswold Canals Trust.

The biodiversity of the canal corridor is directly linked to the commitment of thousands of volunteers who are passionate about to conserving, protecting, and enhancing wildlife. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Stroud Valleys Projects work in partnership with the canal project to support learning, biodiversity net gain, improved nesting and migratory routes and lead on the environmental aspects of the Project which include substantial habitat creation work.

New Canal channel | Letter to the editor: canal wildlife must be protected
The new clay-lined section at Capel’s Mill. Picture: Cotswold Canals Trust.

As a partnership we are working together to standardised methods of inspection and assessment ahead of works to reduce disturbance to existing wildlife and habitats. Any member of the community that wishes to become an environmental volunteer and support opportunities for conserving protecting wildlife can do so by getting in touch, local participation in conservation and nature resource management is essential for the sustainable benefits of our waterways.

If anyone would like to get in touch to find out more, they are welcome to visit the partnership website www.cotswoldcanalsconnected.org or call the office on 01453 752568.”

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