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News article created on 25 March 2013

Endangered water voles receive cash boost in Leicestershire

Water voles in Leicestershire are set to benefit as one of our projects to improve habitats along the Grand Union Canal has received a £50,000 boost from Natural England. We believe the work will help to increase numbers of the endangered mammal in the area and protect a number of water loving plants at the same time.

We are delighted that Natural England has made this huge donation towards our water vole project. John Best

By planting coir rolls, we'll create a water vole-friendly green edge along 350 metres of steel piled canal bank near the villages of Kilby and Newton Harcourt on the Leicester Line.

These three metre long coir roll mats, made from coconut husks, will be planted along with a variety of aquatic plants. Once established they will provide food and shelter, allowing the voles to burrow into the bank and make their homes away from predators. 

This four week project is just one of a number we have planned to try and boost the numbers of this popular and much loved animal along the waterways in England and Wales.

Perfect environment for water voles

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.”

Sadie Hobson, from Natural England, said: “Water voles are the UK’s fastest declining mammal and is 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.”