Ratty returns? Plans in place to boost water voles numbers

1 October 2018

Crucial habitat work is being undertaken at Urmston Meadows in Trafford, Greater Manchester to encourage the nation’s fastest declining land mammal back to the area.

Conservation charities City of Trees and TCV Manchester have teamed up with the One Trafford Partnership to undertake this pioneering project, thanks to funding from The Veolia Environmental Trust.

Wetland and ditch habitats are being improved in order to encourage the iconic species to return to the region.

The Water vole is a semi-aquatic mammal which lives in the banks of rivers and wetlands, or in small nests in fens and reedbeds.

It has experienced one of the fastest declines of any native mammal in the 20th century and it’s estimated that over 90% have been lost in the last 30 years due to increased urbanisation, predators and a decline in natural habitat.

The project started this summer with teams of volunteers opening up ditchsides and improving habitat for the voles. It will run until December 2019 with more work planned including improving access and signage for the local community and involving schools to educate them about the wildlife on their doorstep.

Urmston Meadows is located on the southern fringes of Urmston close to the River Mersey in the Trafford borough of Greater Manchester. The meadow pastures, woodland paths, ponds and ditches provide ideal habitat for wildlife.

Andy Long, City of Trees says “Water voles are a flagship species which means that if we work to protect the habitats that water voles rely on, we will also be helping a wealth of other wetland species to survive”.

Paul Taylor, Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust adds "It is a pleasure to be able to support the habitat improvements with a £50,500 Landfill Communities Fund grant. Without the hard-work of all involved including the many dedicated volunteers however, this project would not be possible."

Image: Hugh Clark