Medium_optimized-20150916_100346 Water Voles return to Barking Riverside

19 Aug 13:07

Paula Vandergert

After a ‘holiday’ in Devon, 40 water voles were returned to their home next to the Thames in East London’s Barking Riverside.

Up close, Water Vole (copyright: Barking RiverSide)

As part of the commitments made by developers to enhance the ecological health of Barking Riverside, local water voles were translocated to a sanctuary in Devon while new suitable habitats were created for them at Barking Riverside to compensate for areas they lost to human homes. On 2 August 2016 they were brought back and released safely in Barking Riverside, one of the few water vole key areas in London.
Residents of all ages from the area had the opportunity to see some of the water voles up close and hear from the ecologists contracted by Barking Riverside Ltd about these cute creatures, prior to their release. Water voles (Arvicola amphibious) are rodents that, unlike rats, have fur over their whole bodies and usually live in colonies along watercourses. Females have territories of up to 150m, which they mark with latrines – flattened piles of droppings. Males can have territories twice as large, often overlapping the territories of several females.
Water voles are a protected species under the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act, a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and according to the Wildlife Trusts are the UK’s fastest declining wild mammal, particularly due to habitat loss and predation by the North American mink, introduced to Britain in the 1920s in fur farms but found now in the wild due to escapees and possible deliberate releases. Ecologists have been monitoring the Barking Riverside site for American mink prior to the water voles returning, and the area appears to have been clear for a couple of years. Now that they have been released their progress will continue to be monitored regularly.
Fired up with enthusiasm, the next trip the residents want to make is to the top of the Rivergate Centre, to visit the green roof there. UEL researchers will accompany them and explain how the green roofs work and how they are linked to the rest of the green infrastructure at Barking Riverside. Many of the residents have green roofs on their homes, so they are curious to know how they work and what benefits they bring.
Barking Riverside residents learn about water voles (copyright: UEL SRI/Vandergert)(copyright: UEL SRI/Vandergert)

Water Voles love hiding in tubes. (copyright: Barking Riverside)

Barking Riverside residents by the TURAS green roof experiments (copyright: UEL SRI/Vandergert)

Keywords: Water Voles,