We are in the process of transforming the Regents Canal into a green corridor between the Kingsland Road and Whitmore Road bridges. Working with the permission of the Canal and River Trust, we have already planted some shallow areas with yellow flag iris and other native aquatic and marginal plant species to create rich habitat for nature. Additionally, we are working with the Woodland Trust to replicate woodland edge habitat by planting native hedging along the towpath.
Our greening method involves installing floating islands of vegetation which perform three functions:
- to provide a large area of habitat for wildlife,
- to clean the canal water of diesel, nitrates and phosphates as well as heavy metals,
- to create an environment for people which is beautiful to spend time in and good for our mental health.
The floating islands will be located on the far side of the canal where the depth is too shallow for navigation. For people living on and living by the canal the increase in flowers and wildlife will be life enhancing. Those recreating on the canal whether in canoes or SUP boards and those just strolling along the towpath will find themselves far away from the centre of the busy city in a truly enchanted space, in or on the bank of a river in the countryside, lost in nature.
Currently, moorhens, coots and swans use raised areas on the canal to nest, rest or preen. We will not be doing any work that disturbs waterfowl while they are nesting and we will install additional areas to allow more of these activities. While the vegetation is establishing it will need protecting as new shoots are particularly tempting to waterfowl. Once established this protection will go and the floating islands will hugely increase the habitat for these birds we have already but other, rarer species such as grey and yellow wagtails will have more foraging and nesting opportunities.
This stretch of the Regents Canal is a pilot scheme for the Canal and River Trust to show what is possible. Eventually the entire Regents Canal can connect the various parks and green spaces along its route and act as a green corridor for our wildlife. We already have herons, swans and an occasional kingfisher but there is the potential for water vole and otter too!