Restoring Water Vole Habitat at Penllergare
Water voles are native semi-aquatic rodents. They are important engineers in the landscape due to their burrowing and foraging activity along riverbanks which boosts plant growth and diversity. They are the fastest declining mammal in the UK. In Wales, their population has declined by 89% mostly due to habitat loss, urbanisation, and predation. This iconic species has previously been recorded here at Penllergare and there are populations nearby.
Since the setup of our water vole project, we have made some fantastic progress! Habitat works began in June, and thanks to the help of our dedicated volunteers, we were able to remove excess trees, clear vegetation and widen pathways.
This prepared the area ready for an excavator to come in and create a complex habitat of ditches and ponds
This new watercourse has steep earth banks and slow moving water, providing suitable habitat for water voles, as well as a whole host of species groups such as invertebrates, amphibians and aquatic plants. We hope this will encourage colonisation and increase water vole
A serious threat to water voles is its main predator, the invasive American mink. It is important to keep track and control the presence of mink in areas where water voles may occur.
Using mink rafts, we have kept an eye out for this species since the project began. To-date no tracks have been detected
The next step of the project will be to start thinning trees along the riverbank. This will allow more sunlight into the area which will encourage plant growth. This will provide water voles with a wide variety of food, as well as protection from predators. Also, fencing will soon be introduced to restrict access and prevent disturbance. While some of the area is naturally protected by thick vegetation, fencing will provide extra security, allowing water voles and other wildlife to reside peacefully.
If you would like to get involved in the water vole project, please contact [email protected] for more information
The Water Vole Project has been supported by funding from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme