Thanks to players' support of £675,000, Canal & River Trust is protecting the country's biggest nature trail. With 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, that funding has helped to protect some of the UK's most important wildlife - from otters and water voles to kingfishers and bees. The waterway network gives people the vital chance to experience nature on their doorstep.
The job of the charity is enormous – their waterways include 200,000 megalitres of water (equivalent to 2 billion bathtubs), thousands of different species of wildlife, over 1,200 conservation sites and five World Heritage Sites.
One of the charity's most urgent challenges is managing the effects of our changing climate – such as the recent floods in Leeds and on the Rochdale Canal through the Calder Valley.
"It's going to be a hard year ahead for our kingfishers at the flood-hit canals," explains Jonathan Hart-Woods, environment manager at the Trust. "A lot of waterway birds are going to find it difficult to feed. Kingfishers and herons need clear water to feed in, which they haven't got right now, as the water is all churned up. Our aquatic plants have all been disturbed, and that will have a ripple effect throughout the ecosystem of the waterway."
Thanks to the support of an Extra Award of £25,000 made by People's Postcode Lottery players at the end of 2015, the charity has been able to double the amount raised for our flood appeal, as well as help the clean-up operation at the flood sites.
The money is needed to repair canal breaches and landslips. The charity will also fix holes and washed away towpaths and clear deposited silt, which is affecting the wildlife that live on our waterways.
"It was heart-warming to see everyone out working together," said Jonathan, who teamed up with the Trust's operational teams and community volunteers. "It was all hands on deck. Seeing the canal banks ripped up from the flooding was terrible. We set to work clearing away debris from the water to allow fish to pass and rebuilt and seeded canal banks that provide safe homes for wildlife. We removed tons of rubbish from hedgerows and trees to allow them to leaf and flower – so important for insects and birds to feed and breed.
"By coming together, we have been able to work quickly to allow birds to continue to nest and protect these special places for our wildlife to thrive."
You can find out more about Canal & River Trust's vital work by visiting their website. Why not get involved today?