Cotswold Water Vole appeal 2009

A water voleTom Marshall

Saving the Cotswold water vole


Best known as the beloved ‘Ratty’ in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, the water vole is now officially Britain’s fastest declining mammal.

A Cotswold resident for thousands of years, if you're lucky enough to see him, he's small and brown with silky fur, a blunt nose, small inconspicuous ears and a furry tail. Gloucestershire water voles have suffered an 83% decline in just 20 years and action must be taken now if they are to survive.


Help us save the Cotswold water vole, before it's too late!

We conducted two surveys in 1978/79, and then in 1997/98 and recorded a staggering 83% decline in water vole numbers in the county. In 2009 we conducted a survey on sections of the rivers Churn, Coln, Windrush, Leach, Dikler and the Slaughter Brook.

Of the 22 parishes investigated, 19 were found to still support water voles despite this massive county-wide decline.  Whilst this might appear to be encouraging news, the populations we found were so tiny and completely cut off from one another, they simply won’t survive without our help.  The loss and damage of their habitat, and the ferocious predation by the non-native American mink has pushed the water vole to the very edge of survival.




There is no time to lose

Time is not on the water vole's side but, with your help, we aim to re-connect the existing water vole populations and encourage them to re-populate historic sites.

Here’s how we plan to do it

We have a three pronged attack – control mink, improve the river habitat and support the local people to take the water vole’s needs into account when going about their daily lives and businesses.

Our team of people, led by Water Vole Officer, John Field, are ready to deliver this work now, and we need to give them to tools they need to save the Cotswold water vole.


Building on John's success

John and his team of volunteers have surveyed over 100 km of watercourse in the Berkeley Vale for water voles. The Berkeley Vale Water Vole Recovery project has so far installed 2,470 m of livestock fencing to prevent grazing cattle from damaging water vole habitat and burrows. Water vole habitat restoration work is also set to start shortly on 2 km of the Wickster's & Capehall Brooks in partnership with the farmers, Lower Severn Drainage Board and the Environment Agency.

Our ongoing willow pollard and thinning programmes will also enable small isolated water vole populations to join up, making their survival more viable.

In the Kilcott valley, John’s team is working with landowners on various schemes in the hope that the one very small and very isolated water vole population are able to re-colonise up and downstream and to connect with the Ozleworth Brook population.


How you can help

Having travelled the world in search of a motley collection of high profile endangered species it's all too easy to forget that we have endangered species in the UK that need our help. We're particularly worried about the plight of the water vole – and urge you to help with this vital campaign.

- Stephen fry & Mark Cawardine

John and his team have already surveyed the Cotswold Rivers and know which populations of water voles are the most vulnerable and isolated. With your support today, John will be able to undertake the work necessary for their survival.

  • £20 - pays for 4 meters of willow faggot to be laid to shore up the river banks and stop them eroding.
  • £30 - provides 6 metres of watercourse fencing to protect the water voles’ habitat from damage by grazing animals.
  • £65 - pays for 1 mink-monitoring raft in order to detect the presence of mink and limit damage.