Water Vole Conservation

London Wildlife Trust's water vole project started in March 2001 and is dedicated to the conservation of this species throughout Greater London.

The Biodiversity Action Plan for London includes the water vole as a key species. We identified a number of important locations where water voles still thrive. In Greater London, water vole distribution is sparse with some concentration towards the Thames Estuary.

The most significant populations can be found in dykes in the marshes at Rainham and Crayford to the east of London. Other healthy populations live on rivers such as the Ingrebourne, Beam, Crane, Colne, Frays and waterways in the Lea Valley.

Water voles have legal protection under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the project is working with landowners, developers and relevant authorities throughout London to protect waterside habitat where water voles are living.

Accidental destruction of colonies can happen if pest control fails to recognise the difference between a water vole or rat correctly.

The project is also involved with local initiatives where vole-friendly habitat can be enhanced or created.

The Trust does not currently employ a specific officer to lead on water vole issues, but we are currently pursuing means to develop a new phase of water vole work, given that there is a need to monitor mink, continue habitat restoration, and implement - where appropriate - reintroduction of water voles to some water bodies where they previously thrived.

Have you seen a water vole?

Like all wildlife, it is sometimes difficult to identify or even spot a water vole. When we survey for them, we search waterside habitat for their field signs.

If you spot a water vole or find any of their field signs we would love to know. We need the following information:

  • Your name

  • Your contact details

  • Exactly where you saw it (if possible in the form of an OS grid reference)

  • What you saw (actual sighting, burrows, droppings/latrine, feeding remains etc.)

  • When you saw it

  • Type of habitat (river, pond, canal etc.)

  • Any other information you think is relevant

Please send information about any sightings to London Wildlife Trust, Skyline House, 200 Union Street, London SE1 0LW or email enquiries@wildlondon.org.uk.

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