The National Water Vole Database & Mapping Project

The National Water Vole Database & Mapping Project

Terry Whittaker/2020VISION

The National Water Vole Database and Mapping Project is the only project of its kind in the UK. By bringing together and mapping water vole and mink data, we can inform conservation efforts to give ratty the best possible chance.

Led by The Wildlife Trusts and delivered by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the project was established in 2008 by the UK Water Vole Steering Group as a way to collate water vole survey records, map the distribution of this species and identify important areas for water vole conservation. The project also collates and maps data on the American mink.

Water voles urgently need our help. Our report published in 2017 revealed that between 2006-2015, water vole distribution declined dramatically. There was a 30% decline in the places where these river mammals once lived across England and Wales. You can read the report here and download the maps here.

It’s so important to continue to monitor water vole populations so that conservation efforts can be informed by up-to-date data. The Wildlife Trusts believe that these maps must be integrated with local plans and ecological network maps, all within a Nature Recovery Network.


A note on the use of the maps

The alert maps are designed to inform the design and implementation of conservation programmes, and all other work/ management (including habitat enhancements, river rehabilitation and restoration projects as well as routine works) undertaken in or adjacent to important water vole sites.

We’re always keen to understand how the maps are helping in water vole conservation.  So whether you’re a student carrying out a research project, a local authority planner, a landowner carrying out habitat enhancement work or a local interest group working to protect a river in your area, we want to hear from you – please contact us [email to: cc].

Get involved

The success of the National Water Vole Database & Mapping Project depends upon collaborative work with the Local Environmental Records Centres, Wildlife Trusts, museums and other organisations who do a tremendous job to provide us with all the records they have received and verified over the course of the year.

The data suppliers, in turn, depend upon keen amateur and professional surveyors who freely supply their records to help complete the picture of how the UK’s wildlife is faring.

This is where you can get involved!  There are a number of ways you can take part and help build our understanding of water vole and mink distribution across the UK:

Case studies and testimonials

We are always thrilled to hear how the National Water Vole Database & Mapping project is being used to help further water vole conservation.
Please get in touch via email with a short testimonial in order to help us to understand how the outputs of this project are used.

Julia Lofthouse, Mammal Project Officer, Beds, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust - “Your data is especially useful when looking at sites beyond our county…By seeing that our Regional Key Area on the Upper Thames and River Cole extends over the county boundary into Gloucestershire and incorporates some of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s known water vole sites; I know to talk to GWT to link our mink control schemes up.”

Elaina Whittaker-Slark, Lead Ranger (Western Downs), South Downs National Park Authority - “We are planning a Rivers for Life project within the SDNPA and the alert maps have been useful in prioritising areas within the national park area, where there are mink and/or water voles.  Having access to these maps and the ability to request variations on them will assist us in contributing to the conservation of water voles within the NP.  Baseline data, especially shown in maps, is important when planning any future projects and reference for those ones that have been completed.”

Northumberland Wildlife Trust used the Alert Maps as part of the Kielder Water Vole Heritage Project. “This work forms an integral part of the north-east water vole strategy to expand existing water vole strongholds into previously occupied areas that have been cleared of mink and where habitat management is not enough.”

The small print

River Catchments

The maps are divided by broad River Basin Districts which are published by the Environment Agency under an Open Government Licence.

Copyright information

The maps are free to download, but please credit the National Water Vole Database & Mapping Project 2017 in any published material arising from your use of the maps.  The report and maps should be cited as:

McGuire, C. and Whitfield, D. (2017) National Water Vole Database and Mapping Project, PART 1: Project Report 2005-2015. Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.  Curdridge

All maps have been produced by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. River Basin District data © Environment Agency and The Rivers Trust copyright and/or database right 2014.  All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Crown Copyright 2017. Ordnance Survey licence no. 100015632. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings.