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Ratty has reared his head in a new woodland being nurtured on a formerly derelict colliery site in Barnsley.
Endangered water voles have been found on 58 hectare (145 acre) Cudworth Common, which is managed by the Forestry Commission and owned by the Land Trust.
The creature - made famous by the Ratty character in the Wind in the Willows book - has vanished from many of its former haunts and now merits its own Biodiversity Action Plan.
Adrienne Bennett, Forestry Commission Ecologist and Biodiversity Officer, said:
"Habitat creation is a key goal in Cudworth's transformation into a thriving woodland so the fact that we have water voles is tremendous news. Creating a thriving woodland will transform Cudworth from a derelict site and the fact that we have water voles is tremendous news. Losing river banks and being eaten by mink are just two of the factors behind the water vole’s demise. Over the last 60 years they are said to have vanished from 90 per cent of their UK homes. Cudworth is doing its small part to bring them back."
Rangers found water vole latrines along watercourses in the wood and alongside ponds . Although it's a smelly job, hunting for droppings is the best way of confirming the creature's presence as actually sighting one can be very difficult.
Nurturing new woodland on brownfield sites is one of the priorities in the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Forest Strategy. Over 35,000 trees have been planted at Cudworth Common and waymarked trails and wildlife habitats created.
Notes to Editor
- Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive woodlands. To find out more about the region’s woods log-on to www.forestry.gov.uk/yorkshireandthehumber
- The Land Trust is an organisation that provides a sustainable future and an exit strategy for public open spaces. The Trust, a company established by the Home and Communities Agency (formerly English Partnerships), Groundwork, the Environment Agency and the Forestry Commission deals with the long-term management of public spaces for the benefit of the community. The Trust’s goal is to provide maintenance of quality spaces in order to improve the economic, social and health prospects of an area. The Trust acquires land that is not considered to have any economic value and works with local management partners to create new sustainable "green amenities".
- Media calls: Richard Darn on 01226 246351. Mobile: 0775 367 0038.