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Salford is relatively flat with the exception of some steep areas adjacent to the River Irwell at Clifton and Kersal Edge. Past industrial activities have again affected the character of Salford with canals, railways, former collieries and derelict industrial sites now providing important areas for biodiversity. The majority of Salford's unimproved acidic and neutral grassland is found on the post-industrial sites.

Astley Moss East and Clifton Moss are the largest semi-natural areas in the borough and were both lowland raised bogs. Clifton Moss was affected by construction of the M61 in the early 1970s and is now valued for a complex mosaic of habitats comprising woodland, scrub, marsh, acidic and neutral grassland, open water, swamp and bog.

Other habitats in the borough include the largest single area of broadleaved woodland in the county at Botany Bay Wood in addition to ponds, lodges and reservoirs with associated swamp and marshy grassland habitats. A concentration of ponds extends into Salford from the Wigan boundary demonstrating how biodiversity is not confined to borough boundaries and the importance of recognising these connections between districts. The concentration of ponds is important for amphibian breeding grounds. The Bridgewater Canal, the River Irwell and the Manchester Ship Canal run through the borough.