Greenbelt

a helping hand at westwinds

Having suffered a 97% decline in the last 60 years, water voles on the River Went are receiving the help they need.

Greenbelt is delighted to be working with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to re-create lost water vole habitat at Westwinds, near Ackworth, as part of the Trust's new Living Went Project.

Water voles were once a common sight in Yorkshire, but over the last 60 years they have declined by a startling 97%. This decline has largely due to habitat loss, which is why YWT is embarking on an exciting habitat restoration project. YWT is a local charity working for a country rich in wildlife, and the work is being made possible with support from the SITA Trust and the Environment Agency.

The River Went area around Featherstone and Pontefract is one of the last remaining water vole strongholds in West Yorkshire, but even here the population has become fragmented, which makes it harder for the voles to recover following adverse weather conditions such as flooding and harsh winters.

It is vital to re-connect isolated pockets of the water vole population and this is why Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have teamed up with us to re-create lost habitat of small ponds and wetlands adjacent to the Westwinds housing development near Featherstone. As Britain's leading land management company, we are well placed to help with this project. This work will provide the ideal home for these wild animals, and hopefully join-up the water vole colonies which are present both up and downstream on the Went Beck. This will strengthen the local population and allow them to survive and prosper. This is the helping hand that this very special mammal needs to become a common sight along the waterways once more.

The Westwinds project is part of the "Living Went Project" which is aiming to re-naturalise and re-connect the River Went.

This is the second development on which we manage a conservation programme for water voles. Less than 20 miles to the south is Laughton Common near Rotherham where, in conjunction with English Nature, our maintenance routine is designed around protecting this dwindling species.

For more information, visit www.ywt.org.uk/livingwent