Water voles have been brought back to the Northumberland Landscape thanks to Restoring Ratty. This landscape-scale project has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award for ‘Best practice – large-scale nature conservation’ project by the Chartered Institute of Ecology an Environmental Management (CIEEM). CIEEM are the leading professional membership body representing and supporting ecologists and environmental managers in the UK, Ireland and abroad.
Restoring Ratty is a partnership project between Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Forestry England and the Tyne Rivers Trust, supported by funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
To enable the success of water vole reintroduction, Forestry England changed the management of the forest to restore the banks along the watercourses, encouraging more varied plant-life to create the perfect habitat. The presence of mink, which hugely contributed to the water voles’ disappearance, has been monitored by the project partners and volunteers to ensure protection of the new vole population.
1,000 water voles will have been reintroduced to Kielder Water and Forest Park by the end of June this year, adding to the Forestry Commission’s celebration of 100 years of forestry in their centenary year.
Celebrating all the hard work and success, representatives of Restoring Ratty will be travelling to London for the awards ceremony on 27 June. National recognition is well deserved.
Kevin May, Forestry England’s Forest Management Director for North Forest District, said:
“To have been shortlisted for this prestigious award is testament to this strong partnership across our organisations which includes the energy and enthusiasm of a number of keen volunteers. Positive habitat management and the reduction and ongoing monitoring of mink populations will ensure the resilience of this reintroduction. Telling the story of Restoring Ratty supports not only the interest in water voles but supports a general awareness of ecology and our environment. Winning an award or not, seeing the smiles on local children’s faces involved in the actual release of water voles is prize enough…..!”
Kelly Hollings, Restoring Ratty Project Officer, said
“Since June 2017, I’ve been involved in the release of 965 water voles, not to mention the captive breeding of water voles from the Pennines, and over the border in Scotland from 2016 onwards. This in itself is so rewarding, but to then be told we have been shortlisted for the CIEEM Award is great news and puts a spring in our step… ready for the next batch of releases this summer.”
Liz Walters, Project Manager at Tyne Rivers Trust, said,
“It’s fantastic to have been part of such a landmark project for Northumberland. To make sure the water voles had the right environment to breed in we monitored for mink in the forest, as well as working with landowners outside of the forest. It’s important that conservation projects like this gain national recognition as it shows what can be achieved when organisations work together.”
If you’d like to help the project, there are volunteering opportunities including checking mink rafts and helping at events – contact [email protected]. If you spot water voles or mink, report your sightings.
To find out more about the project visit: nwt.org.uk/what-we-do/projects/restoring-ratty