Water for Wildlife

Water vole sitting on a wooden plank in waterWater vole © Greg Hitchcock

Thanks to funding from SITA Trust and the Environment Agency, Kent Wildlife Trust has embarked upon a landmark project to help protect the endangered water vole on the North Kent Marshes.

Water voles (Arvicola amphibius) typically inhabit the well-vegetated banks of slow-moving streams and rivers, but are also found in ditches and ponds. Once a common sight along waterways in Britain, the water vole has undergone one of the most dramatic declines of any British mammal. 

The North Kent Marshes are an internationally important wetland and an important stronghold for the nationally scarce water vole, which is a UK BAP Priority Species, but to date there has been no co-ordinated effort to protect and monitor them. 

This project has been developed by a partnership consisting of Kent Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Environment Agency and the Kent and Medway Biological Records Centre. For the first time, this partnership project will address the key factors that have contributed to the decline of the water vole: degradation and loss of habitat, and predation by the American mink (Neovison vison).

This project will enable us to carry out regular surveys, enhance habitats and control the American mink to allow water vole populations to recover and expand across the marshes. It is hoped that by working hand-in-hand with like-minded organisations and private landowners we’ll be able to create a safe haven for water voles stretching from the Seasalter Levels to Ferry Marshes, north west of the Sheppey Crossing. 

Vole Reversal Update

We are now nicely into the second year of our water vole recovery project.

The first year produced what has been hailed as one of the best water vole datasets in the country; a big thank you to all the volunteers and landowners who made this possible. Having surveyed 101 miles of bankside habitat, recording well over 4000 water vole signs, we now have a really detailed picture of the status and distribution of water voles across the project area.

We are very excited to see if this picture will change next year, particularly in the wake of our work to restore and create new burrowing and foraging habitat out on Ham Marshes, Faversham.

Mink monitoring efforts have shown encouragingly few signs of mink and rafts are now being deployed across the rest of the project area to widen our search for the non-native predator.

Contact Kent Wildlife Trust’s Water for Wildlife Project Officer for more information eamonn.lawlor@kentwildlife.org.uk

For updates on the project please take a look at the SITA Trust hosted project page

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