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News article created on 7 April 2015

Endangered water voles given new home on River Stort

We've completed a project to build new habitat for water voles on the River Stort.

We've installed around 150 metres of new canal bank made of coconut-fibre rolls and reeds near Feildes Weir. The new banking will be perfect for water voles to make their homes, hide from predators and find an ample food source. The work will also help to support the river bank to prevent damage to the towpath on this section of the Stort.

Essex Wildlife Trust and Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust plan to reintroduce water voles to the Stort later this year and this work will  provide suitable habitat for the species.

Funding for the project was provided by The Michael Marks Charitable Trust, Chapman Charitable Trust and Clark Bradbury Charitable Trust, as well as the generous Friends of the Canal & River Trust and individual donors, who responded to an online appeal.

Breeding season

Chantal Dave, Canal & River Trust environmental scientist, said: “The project has gone really well, so we’re pleased to have got it completed, particularly in time for the breeding season which runs from March until October. It’d be great to see water voles back on this stretch of the Stort, and we’ll continue to monitor the site for progress.”

Charles Baker, Canal & River Trust senior project manager, who oversaw the work, added: “This was not only a chance to help water voles, but also at the same time working to stabilise the river bank and protect the towpath from further erosion. Working closely with our engineers, environmental scientist and with additional external support from the Environment Agency, we have solved several problems within one project, delivering a robust and long term solution.”