Water vole distribution suffers 30% decline, but Essex conservation efforts working

A young water vole in Essex following a successful reintroduction scheme. Photo: Essex Wildlife Trust.

A new report analysing data from 10 years fo water vole surveying has revealed that water vole distribution has declined dramatically during this time, with a 30% decline across the country. however, targeted conservation work in some counties has had positive effects on distribution in some areas, with Essex leading the way.

Water voles used to be regularly seen and heard along ditches, streams and rivers across the UK. Although "Ratty" was a key character in the popular childrens book The Wind in the Willows, a generation of children will have grown up never having seen the animal that inspired the character, as water voles have disppeared from many waterways. In Essex, major water vole reintroduction programmes, led by Essex Wildlife Trust and partners, into safe and suitable habitats on the River Colne and River Stort, have been successful. It is only by co-ordinating the efforts of many hundreds of volunteers and landowners that it has been possible for the Wildlife Trusts and partners in the East to achieve these results. However, these successes are not enough to reverse the national distribution trends.

For more information about this report and water voles in Essex please visit Essex Wildlife Trust's website here.