Water vole reintroduction programme in the running for Award

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Picture courtesy of Derek Gow

A conservation project led by Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) is in the running for a prestigious environmental award to mark its significant environmental achievement.

In a nine-year partnership project, the FES team has helped return Water Voles back to The Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park area after a gap of almost 20 years.

The ambitious and innovative re-introduction - the first of its kind in Scotland – has made it through to the short list in the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards, which will be decided on 23 November.

The project, which involved the release of over 1000 voles between 2008 – 2011, has resulted in water voles now being present at over 50 sites, some of which are up to 12km away from the original release area in the Trossachs.

Katy Anderson, Habitats Manager with the FES team in Aberfoyle, said;

“The project has been a phenomenal success! Water voles in the Trossachs have become a flagship for conservation in this area and the project has attracted a lot of volunteer support and been a great project for local schools to engage with.  

“We have effectively remodelled the landscape to benefit the water voles – everything from restoring wetlands to creating new riparian areas. We cleared non-native trees from burn-sides to allow vegetation to recover, built over 100 ponds and made dams. We also dug many miles of ditches and sowed wetland seed mixes to enhance the forest for wildlife.

“Thanks to the successful efforts of all the partners, water voles are really well-established in the Trossachs.  That’s a very good indication of the health of the wetlands that have been restored.

“This is undoubtedly one of the most successful projects of its type in the U.K.”

The project now serves as a template for other water vole re-introduction projects in the UK.

A significant part of the success of the reintroduction is down to the removal, monitoring and ongoing management of American mink. Together with habitat loss, mink predation had seen water voles eradicated from the Trossachs by the mid 1980’s.

As well as land manager Forest Enterprise Scotland, the partnership (est 2008) includes Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Derek Gow Associates and the Kilgarth Development Company. The Forth Fisheries Trust has also joined the partnership and continues to host the current Project Officer.

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
  2. Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of the Forestry Commission and manages the National Forest Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
  3. Tha Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba na phàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh na h-Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba. Tha e an urra ri riaghladh agus cumail maoineachadh is comhairle ri coilltearachd ann an Alba. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta.
  4. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.