The Gwent Levels Water Vole Project

water vole, magor marsh, gwent wildlife trustWater vole at Magor Marsh

Once a common sight on the Gwent Levels, the European water vole has suffered catastrophic declines in past years; a trend reflected across the UK. Read below what Gwent Wildlife Trust are doing to help reverse this trend.

Project overview

During 2012 and 2013, Gwent Wildlife Trust embarked on an ambitious project to reintroduce water voles to the Gwent Levels.

Historically, water voles were very common on the Gwent Levels, some say as common as rabbits!  Sadly a combination of habitat loss and predation from the non-native American mink as reduced the population of water voles to just 10% of its former size; that's across the UK.  On the Gwent Levels, water voles suffered dramatically as well, becoming seemingly extinct by the early 2000s.

Gwent Wildlife Trust have since worked with landowners and volunteers to create a mink monitoring network, centred on our Magor Marsh Nature Reserve.  This has seen mink numbers drop considerably and together with the excellent habitat we have at Magor Marsh and the surrounding area, it became the perfect time to release water voles onto the reserve.

During 2012 and 2013, over 200 water voles were released within the reserve.  The voles were supplied from the Dereck Gow Consultancy, and were subject to vigerous genetic and disease screening.  These voles have been specifically bred for reintroduction projects.

Three years on, the voles are doing well.  We continue to survey for them at Magor Marsh as well as maintaining our mink monitoring network.

For more information about the project, explore the menu items on the left hand side.