Love that mistletoe! And those canals!

Lots on the to-do list today, so have just spent a happy few hours ignoring it and browsing the web instead.

Amongst other distractions I ran a search on Mistletoe Diary – just to see whether there are many refs to it. The most prominent was at Granny Buttons, a “narrowboat blog about the English cut” by canal enthusiast Andrew Denny.

According to Andrew I “love” mistletoe. I’ll forgive him the exaggeration, but I’m concerned that he’s worried that I might “try to stop a canal being restored because of some rare species of mistletoe. Or bat.”

This may seem an odd remark, bearing in mind my job is, er, restoring canals. Hmm… Actually there’s a long (and to me somewhat tedious) story, based on many examples, and the work and research of many people, stretching back years, behind that kind of remark and that concern. There are some very real issues, like them or not, but unfortunately these are very misunderstood, and often ignored (in a head-in-the-sand kind of way) by both the canal and wildlife lobbies. It can lead to conflict – often unnecessarily. Even when there are ‘show-stoppers’, a compromise of some sort can usually be reached – but of course one person’s compromise is another person’s sell-out….

I should know, sifting and forging ways forward through these issues has been my job for 20 years. It aint simple, and a lot depends on what one means by ‘restoring a canal’. But that’s all another story. If you really want to know more you could try reading my review of the issues in the Wildlife Trusts’ Wetland Restoration Manual – the Canals Chapter appeared in the second edition a few months ago – you can buy a copy by clicking here (though I think it’ll set you back £45 – extracts may be available on request…).

Talking of canal restorations – we’ve got our money! For the first Phase of the Cotswold Canals project – 3 years of planning and prevaricating – and at last we have the budget – £11.9M from Heritage Lottery Fund, and £6M from South-West RDA – which with other commitments brings us a total of £22M towards the £24M needed. Digging will start in late summer – we hope… More on this at the British Waterways website. And if you’re really interested, take a look at our Project Atlas – detailing all the Cotswold Canal Phase 1 plans (including those for rare plants and bats) and open for comments now.

Enough about canals! Back to Mistletoe Diary – and I see there are also refs in two organic gardening Blogs: Amy Stewart’s Dirt, and Andrew Skinner’s Lavendon Garden. Amy is in northern California – must drop her a line about mistletoe over there – there’s a long-established colony of European mistletoe in Sonoma County – just to the south of her, which I hope to visit later this year.