Volunteers give big boost for Oxford Canal wildlife corridor

Published: Thursday, 12th March 2020

Volunteers and local boaters have planted bulbs, trees and shrubs in support of the City Council’s drive to improve the waterways and boost biodiversity, support wildlife and fight climate change.

Last week, 5,000 snowdrop and bluebell bulbs were planted and wildflower seeds sown by the Canal & River Trust’s Towpath Taskforce volunteers and boaters living on the residential canal moorings in Summertown and Wolvercote.   Members of the Waterways Estate Residents’ Association in Summertown have also planted bulbs and sown wildflower seed.

Yesterday (11/03), city councillors joined volunteers from the Friends of the Trap Grounds nature reserve, located on the Oxford Canal near Frenchay Road in north Oxford. They planted 15 new trees, 350 hedging plants and shrubs.

The native trees and plants include hawthorn, blackthorn, dog rose, crab apple, field maple and rowan, which will provide berries and important habitats for wildlife.

750 waterside marginal plants will be planted in the spring and new bird-nesting boxes, insect-hotels, hedgehog and toad habitats and kingfisher-posts will be installed.  

This latest initiative is part of the City Council’s Oxford Waterways Project which was launched last year.  It works with partners and local residents to improve the waterways and make the most of the benefits to those who live in and visit Oxford. 

In the recommendations from the Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change, enhanced biodiversity was seen as central to the overall ‘net zero’ vision of Oxford and it was recognised that tackling climate change and ecological breakdown together was important.

Assembly Members were positive about creating more biodiversity and green space around Oxford. They found that protecting and enhancing biodiversity and “greening” the city was a key route to engagement with communities and individuals, and recognised that responsibility for biodiversity was spread across government at local and national levels and citizens.

“Oxford’s waterways are a fantastic resource, providing green transport routes places, to relax and spend time outdoors and they provide many health and wellbeing benefits.

“They are also important corridors of nature, linking up areas of habitat throughout our city.  Huge effort has gone in to improving the canal area, with more planned over the coming year.  We want to increase the local biodiversity by planting native species which can support wildlife contribute to our efforts to combat carbon and the climate crisis.

“Thanks to local residents, volunteers and to our partners the Canal & River Trust for all the ongoing support in making the Oxford Canal an amazing place for nature and for people of the city to enjoy.”

Councillor Louise Upton, Oxford City Council’s lead member for Healthy Oxford and the Oxford Waterways Project