Hello botanical friends,
It was wonderful to see so many of you on Saturday. It was a wonderful day (what can go wrong when tea and cakes are involved?) with a fantastic talk from John Warren which I am still absorbing. I am looking forward to the publication of his new book, and fear that he may be right that it is a "gateway drug to botanical complexity".
On a more sober note, we also passed on details of a canal restoration project which could spell disaster for endangered species where they should be protected:
Montgomery Canal Restoration Project
Work is due to start this month on restoring a 4-mile section of the Montgomery Canal from Llanymynech to Arddleen and creation of three 'off-line' nature reserves. The project is part of a £14 million levelling up fund grant to the Canal and Rivers Trust in partnership with Powys County Council, announced in the autumn 2021 budget, supported by Montgomeryshire's MP. Eventually the intention is to connect the canal with the wider network for navigation to Newtown.
Background and emerging issues
Restoration of the canal has been ongoing for decades. A partnership agreement was made in 2005 for sustainable restoration: https://docslib.org/doc/5560443/montgomery-canal-regeneration-through-sustainable-restoration-a-conservation-management-strategy The agreement recognised the negative impact of motorised boats on the rare flora and planned to mitigate this by creating large areas of offline reserves and capping the number of boat movements annually. Since then, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust has left the partnership because of the effect of motorised boats on the flora. The Trust recently released a petition to save the canal's wildlife (https://action.wildlifetrusts.org/page/120429/action/1?mode=DEMO&locale=en-GB) and earlier in the week a group of naturalists sent a letter to Powys County Times arguing for horse-drawn boats (https://www.montwt.co.uk/news/wildlife-experts-want-only-horse-drawn-boats-montgomeryshire-canal-sac) as a solution.
A more detailed response is being considered in the form of an article for the next newsletter however, in the intervening time you may wish to make your own thoughts known:
1) Powys County Council has an online consultation about the project which you may like to contribute to here: https://en.powys.gov.uk/article/13669/Montgomery-Canal-Restoration-Project
2) On Friday 27th at 11:30 in Llanymynech there is a meeting organised by Powys County Councillor Adam Kennerley, the Assistant Portfolio Holder for Biodiversity, bringing together the various stakeholders to try to understand all elements of the project. It would be tremendously helpful to include one or two naturalists with a detailed understanding of the canal to share their knowledge about the wildlife, particularly of the aquatic flora. Dr Kate Thorne (BSBI referee for Montgomeryshire) is contributing to discussions but is unavailable for the meeting.
More details to follow.