The Coventry Water Vole Project aims to improve Coventry’s waterways and riverside habitat for water voles.
The joint project between Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the Sowe Valley Project and Coventry City Council is now in its fifth year, with additional funding in 2012 from the Environment Agency, and with invaluable support from the Canal and Rivers Trust and the Living Environment Trust.
Water voles are Britain's most severely threatened mammal. Numbers have declined by as much as 95% in Warwickshire in recent years due to threats such as habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, poisoning and predation by American Mink. They are listed as one of the priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
The Coventry Water Vole Project has focussed on the control of the non-native and highly invasive plant Himalayan balsam, followed by replanting some riverside areas with native 'water vole friendly' wetland plants.
The project will engage and motivate local people of all ages to help preserve their valuable waterways and water vole populations. It will create habitat improvements to support the water vole population and benefit other wildlife species that live on the natural heritage of North Warwickshire’s waterways.
Surveys over the last four years, which have been obtained by our volunteers, have revealed that small numbers of water voles have recolonised waterways and expanded into canals and smaller watercourses in North Warwickshire.
For experts in the local area the situation facing water voles is of grave concern which they would like to see addressed. Peter Sanders, Local Biodiversity Action Plan lead for water voles commented, “Given the area of this recovery, its strategically important location in a network of key connective canals, rivers, brooks and ditches the project is vital in securing this expanding hub of the country’s water vole population. It has the clear potential to support a regional recovery programme.”
Sadly, many local people are simply not aware of the situation faced by water voles. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Sowe Valley Project in Coventry highlighted that people were unaware of the issues affecting water voles but once aware, many became very passionate and driven to help make a change for water voles, undertaking training on water vole identification and conservation and actively volunteering to improve the situation for water voles.
Michelle Tyrtania, from Coventry City Council, said, “We are keen to support this new project which will strengthen and build on the work currently carried out on key water vole sites in Coventry. This project will be important to help retain the existing water vole populations and will enable them to extend their range in the county. In particular the project will help us to reinforce the water vole positive maintenance regime adopted by the Park Service along all water courses and continue to publicise the situation of water voles nationally and the importance of Coventry as a key location for water vole recovery.”
To find out more, or if you are interested in volunteering please contact;
Tim Precious, Wetlands Projects Officer
024 7630 2912