Fencing water vole habitat
Next week, work will begin on fencing part of the tributary stream that runs at the bottom of Village Green.
For several years, we have known that there are water voles in the reserve: Arvicola amphibius, listed as endangered on the IUCN GB Red List, a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and fully protected under section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
This year, our in-house wildlife photographer Simon Knight, signed up for and completed the People’s Trust for Endangered Species course on the identification and monitoring of water voles, and set out to survey the Lambrok in Lambrok Meadow and its tributary stream that runs along the bottom of Village Green. He found clear signs of a substantial water vole colony in the banks of the tributary stream and reported them to the Countryside Team.
Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 makes it an offence to damage, or obstruct access to, water vole burrows. As the landowner, Wiltshire Council is obliged to make visitors to the reserve aware that there are water voles here, and to ensure that those visitors do not, intentionally or otherwise, offend against the 1981 Act by letting their dog disturb the water voles or dig up their burrows.
The proposed fences are marked with a black line
Therefore the county has decided to fence off certain areas of the stream, not only to protect the water voles but also to meet their obligation to ensure that our visitors do not inadvertently put themselves at risk of prosecution by disturbing a Schedule 5 Species’ habitat.
After the decision was made, the Friends had many questions, all of which we put to Rich Murphy, our Tree Officer. Here is his reply, which may very well answer some of your own questions:
Mail from: Rich Murphy, South and West Wiltshire Tree & Woodland Officer
to: FoSCP + 12 others – 09/05/2023
Here are the answers to some of your many questions:
The contractor will use wire stock fencing, installed upside down so that the big holes are at the bottom to allow wildlife to pass though. There is one section near the main pond on the Village Green side that will be chestnut paling – this is so we can install it as close to the dam as possible.
The fencing will go on the outside of the vegetation (field side and path side) in order to provide as great a clearance to the water vole habitat as is practicable. Some bramble and vegetation will need to be cleared back to allow this to happen and to also give us a greater clearance from the surfaced path. This will be dependent on wildlife considerations – a survey will be carried out prior to works commencing, as well as ongoing monitoring during the works.
The fencing will be on both sides of the stream. In the stretch from the decorated bridge to the pond there will be gates on either side of the stream to allow access for maintenance,
The fence is primarily to protect the water voles and wildlife but it will also prevent further erosion and degradation of the banks adjacent to the two bridges and the dam. If these areas continue to be eroded as they are by footfall and by dogs, they will be undermined and this would be financially prohibitive to rectify.
The work is scheduled to begin next week and will probably take seven working days to complete.
Hope that helps,
We apologise for any inconvenience that this work may cause. Please be patient with our efforts to protect this endangered mammal and its habitat. Thank you.
Wiltshire Council has given us permission to publish the Crown copyrighted OS maps of the proposed fence (and we have assumed the right to add the field names).
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