River Restoration on the Guphill Brook

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is currently undertaking an urban river restoration in partnership with the Environment Agency, Coventry City Council and The Naturesave Trust.

The project will bring multiple benefits to diminishing wildlife and deprived local communities but also importantly to flood risk reduction, which is becoming ever more important with the increased negative effects of climate change.

The project’s aim is to restore the brook’s natural features and enhance the surrounding habitat. Creation of pools connected to the river will give fish and invertebrates a place to rest and shelter but also importantly, have been designed to provide refuge and food for our most charming but sadly also most declined water dweller, the water vole.

Water voles have suffered the most catastrophic decline of any British mammal in the 20th Century. A national survey carried out in 1996-98 revealed that the water vole has been lost from over 90% of sites occupied in a previous survey between 1989 and 1990. Since 2011 we have lost a further 20% of the population.

Warwickshire have isolated populations remaining but these are likely to soon die out due to fragmentation, therefore we must urgently work to provide connecting 'stepping stones' to secure these populations in the long term. Guphill Brook is a vital part of these strategic stepping stones and is one of the sites that have recently seen the disappearance of water voles.

One of the main reasons for the water vole’s rapid decline in Warwickshire alongside predation by invasive American mink is loss of habitat which has been exacerbated by the nationwide spread of the invasive plant Himalayan balsam. Himalayan balsam outcompetes and shades out our native plant species leading to severe negative effects along river habitats.

The loss of native plant species leads to bare banks over autumn to spring which increases the likelihood of erosion and soil washing into watercourses.
The Naturesave Trust has enabled us to remove areas of Himalayan balsam and to create valuable wildflower rich meadows alongside the river. These will be sown and planted by local volunteers and will provide not only a source of food for water voles and invertebrates such as bees and butterflies but will act as a natural highway helping wildlife move between isolated habitats.
 

To find out more please contact;
 Tim Precious, Wetlands Projects Officer
 024 7630 2912
 tim.precious@wkwt.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water vole image copyright Tom Marshall 2015.