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

In 2011, 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 has reduced the population of water voles to just 10% of its former size; a trend reflected 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. This, together with the excellent habitat we have at Magor Marsh and the surrounding area, made it a 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 Derek Gow Consultancy, and were subject to vigorous genetic and disease screening. These voles have been specifically bred for reintroduction projects.

Our ongoing surveys of the water voles at Magor Marsh show the population is doing well. We complete these surveys twice a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn. They are a brilliant learning tool for anyone who wishes to practice water vole surveying so we invite volunteers out with us – keep an eye on the ‘What’s on’ section of the website for up and coming dates! 

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