The Black Country Blue Network is a part-funded European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project which works with partners across the Black Country to increase and improve wildlife habitats in and around the canals, streams and rivers.

As well as helping the Black Country's plants and animals flourish, it is also building better access, encouraging healthy lifestyles and active recreation for people using the footpaths and towpaths that make up the Black Country Blue Network.

Black Country Blue Network 2

In September 2020 the second phase of the project began with City of Wolverhampton Council, Walsall MBC, Dudley MBC, Canal and River Trust and Severn River Trust partnering to complete sub-projects. 

We will update the website as the projects across the Black Country get underway. 

Black Country Blue Network (Phase 1)

The first phase of the Black Country Blue Network was a partnership between City of Wolverhampton Council, Walsall Council, Environment Agency, Canal and River Trust and The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.

The first phase of the project closed in 2019 and the evaluation report of the project can be found in the Downloads section of this page.

A summary of the projects that took place in the first phase can be found below:

Wyrley and Essington Canal Local Nature Reserve. 

Led by City of Wolverhampton Council, this project managed woodland areas, created wildflower meadows and new habitat for resident wildlife. It is hoped this will maintain and increase the diversity of wildlife around the canal, that is locally known as the Curly Wyrley! The project also supported the designation of a new Local Nature Reserve that covers the canal corridor. Visit canalrivertrust.org.uk to find out more. (Photographs show the canal and the hibernaculum created). 

Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve

City of Wolverhampton Council used the phase 1 funding to open up and access and paths through the site and this has enabled more people to enjoy the reserve. Woodland management and wildflower planting has started to attract a variety of insects and wildlife. Please visit Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve for more information. (Photograph shows new paths and way-finding signs).

Reedswood Park

Walsall Council carried out a range of wildlife habitat improvements across the Reedswood Park area. These included the creation of heathland and wildflower meadows, tree planting and other woodland management. They also conducted work on ponds and wetlands; helping to maintain a home for wetland wildlife. Please visit Web Walsall for more information. (Photographs show the orchard planting at Rushall Park and the pond dipping platform created at Reedswood).

Bradley Arm Canal

The Canal and River Trust carried out dredging of 6 hectares of the Bradley Arm Canal. The project enabled increased water flow and allowed more native plant species to establish and grow, providing valuable habitat for a variety of species of fish as well as supporting some of our most iconic animals such as otters, kingfishers and water voles. Please visit Canal River Trust for more information. (Photograph shows the canal after dredging).

Growing Local Flora

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country used the phase 1 funding to grow a range of native plants that were once commonplace across the Black Country but are now much less common. These were planted by Trust staff and volunteers in the project areas described above helping to attract a wide range of wildlife. Please visit bbcwildlife.org.uk for more information on the work of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country. (Photograph shows a volunteer planting at Smestow).

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