There's deep public affection towards the water vole but it's important to remember that this cute and cuddly creature, forever immortalised as Ratty from Wind in the Willows, is an important part of our nation's waterway ecosystem that is under threat.
The news that the National Water Vole Database and Mapping Project suggests that native water vole populations may have declined by around 20% across the UK in the past two years is certainly alarming and a real wake-up call showing that more needs to be done.
The reedfringes and green banks on our canals and rivers provide vital habitat for water voles offering food, shelter and a means of connecting populations across the country. The importance of our waterway network in arresting the decline is clear and as such the Canal & River Trust continues to lead on specialist work to restore valuable habitat on our canals and rivers, giving water voles a much needed helping hand in their recovery.
We have raised over £100,000 for the specific purpose of improving water vole habitats across the country. Players of People's Postcode Lottery have donated £50,000 to such projects in London and Lancashire and Natural England has donated £50,000 to conservation work in Leicestershire. Importantly we've also had donations and voluntary support from members of the public, local authorities and community groups and it's vital that we continue to receive this broad support to keep up our important work.
While we're making great strides this new research shows that we still have a long way to go. It emphasises the need for us all to work together to ensure that this vital and much loved species is looked after and that future generations can still have the pleasure of seeing and hearing water voles on their local canal or river.Help us to protect water voles today by supporting our water vole project!