Water voles in Leicestershire received a welcome boost thanks to a £50,000 grant from Natural England in 2013.
Using the money from Natural England, as well as £3,000 of donations from our generous supporters, we were able to plant coir rolls along the side of the canal. This created a water vole-friendly green edge along 350 metres of steel piled canal bank near the villages of Kilby and Newton Harcourt.
These three-metre long coir roll mats, made from coconut husks, were planted along with a variety of aquatic plants. Now established, they provide food and shelter, allowing the voles to burrow into the bank and make their homes away from predators.
Sadie Hobson, from Natural England, said: “Water voles are the UK’s fastest declining mammal and are better known as ‘Ratty’ from the popular children’s book The Wind in the Willows. We know that water voles live along the Grand Union Canal and by improving this stretch of waterway we can link the colonies, which will encourage the voles to explore further, and hopefully lead to breeding and ultimately numbers increasing.”
John Best, chair of the Trust’s south east waterway partnership, said: “We are delighted that Natural England has made this huge donation towards our water vole project. Canals can provide the perfect environment for water voles to live since they are abundant with food.
"Water voles are protected by law but their numbers are still declining so it is more important now than ever that we try and increase their numbers. Sheet piling is a pretty hostile nesting material if you're a vole, so we welcome this chance to offer them something a little more welcoming.”