Water voles return to the Essex waterways

In recent decades the water vole population has been in decline Credit: ITV Anglia

Water voles are returning to the waterways of Essex.

Five years ago their future looked bleak. But in the last five years The Essex Wildlife Trust has taken action to boost population numbers, including releasing three hundred into the River Colne.

In 2000, a survey revealed that Essex had lost 94% of its water voles. By 2006 they had disappeared from more than 90% of the sites they had occupied during the first half of the 20th century. This led to water voles being named 'Britain's fastest declining mammal'.

In 2007 Essex Wildlife Trust set out to address the species' decline by improving the quality and quantity of existing habitats.

Five years on, surveys in brooks and streams in the Tendring and Colchester have found that water voles have returned to sites from which they had been absent for years.