Scottish Canals is committed to furthering the conservation of biodiversity (plants and animals and their habitats) in and around the waterways. We have to balance this with the need to maintain the towpaths and waterways for everyone to use safely.
Where possible, we undertake low intensity vegetation management on our land as we are keen to encourage a range of habitats from open water to grassland, woodland and scrub where this does not impinge on the safe operation of the canal.
In other areas, particularly those of high use, this approach is not appropriate and more frequent management is required, for example, around lock chambers. We have to balance our statutory obligation to maintain and preserve the built and natural heritage of these 200 year old asset whilst also ensuring they are safe for our customers to use and remain navigable to boating traffic.
We cut the vegetation along the canals several times a year as part of our annual planned maintenance and the timing of these cuts can be partially dictated by the weather. The winter cut back of vegetation on the canals is part of our routine maintenance to prevent the establishment of woody vegetation that could cause damage to the built elements of the canal network which is a nationally important scheduled ancient monument. This work is also carried out to ensure that the waterways remain navigable and that vegetation does not restrict boat movements or mooring.
Scottish Canals will cut back / rectify trees that are damaging (or at risk of damaging) or affecting operation of our assets, overgrowing the towpath, access routes and / or restricting lines of sight, or are imposing a Health & Safety hazard. Members of the public are entitled to trim back vegetation/trees that encroach or overhang into your garden, provided you follow health and safety advice and ensure that the tree does not have a Tree Protection Order.
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