Smart Canals and Local Nature Reserves for North Glasgow

Glasgow City Council and Scottish Canals
Published: 30 October 2020
Last edited: 30 October 2020
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The Scottish Government’s Green Infrastructure Strategic Intervention (GISI) focuses on creating better places and enhancing quality of life in Scottish settlements by improving the quality, accessibility and quantity of green infrastructures in major towns and cities. Glasgow City Council and Scottish Canals, with support of the GISI, want to implement two key strategies – the development of a local nature reserve and a “smart canal’ that can manage extreme rain events.


The Clay Pits Local Nature Reserve (LNR) project will change a 10 ha derelict site into a Local Nature Reserve with a barrier-free path and boardwalk network, mountain bike trail, disabled access fishing pegs, re-designed gateway entrances, viewpoints, and a pedestrian bridge linking communities in the area. 


The smart canal provides rainwater management for a new large regeneration of vacant land by combining blue-green infrastructure with automatically managing the water level in the canal to provide stormwater storage.


West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Area-wide development
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Urban wetlands
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Infrastructure maintenance
Local actors
Other theme
Nature-Based Solutions
Erratic rainfall
Increasing temperatures
Loss of Biodiversity
Storm surges
Ecosystem loss
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge


Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom


The Canal & North Gateway is a joint venture between Glasgow City Council and Scottish Canals. It is an important part of the strategy of revitalising the Scottish canal network, and serves as an exemplar blue-green infrastructure project that is at the cutting edge of how to manage surface water and flood risk within the urban environment. The primary innovation is the strategy to dynamically manage the level of water both within the canal spine and each water management area by raising and lowering the water level in response to predicted weather patterns. This allows water to be retained within SuDS features during normal weather conditions, contributing to urban cooling by increasing the presence of surface water during non-flood events. The project significantly improves biodiversity through the creation of new and varied habitats associated with blue-green infrastructure fingers that will extend from the canal corridor into the heart of regeneration sites. These fingers will form a corridor of wetland margins along which flora and fauna can move, helping extend the link between the rural environment and the heart of the city. Additionally, this intervention will mitigate the predicted increase in rainfall and intensity associated with climate change. The diversion of surface water away will also help regulate water quality by avoiding combined sewer overflows into watercourses during storms.

Contributed by

Matthew Koehorst Greenpop, IUCN Urban Alliance

Other contributors

Martin Faulkner
Jim Jeffrey