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Last modified: 26 February 2008
Image: Graham Catley
London's Rainham Marshes nature reserve is home to the UK's biggest concentration of water voles and staff at the our reserve have welcomed news that water voles are now named in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Water vole populations across the UK have been declining rapidly over the last fifteen years.
Biodiversity Minister Joan Ruddock announced on 26 February that the water vole will gain protection against being killed, injured, or taken from the wild from 6 April. Water voles join the list of wildlife species such as the otter and grass snake that already enjoy protection under the Act.
This coming November sees the 100th anniversary of the publication of the Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame's famous story, which includes a water vole, Ratty, as one of the central characters.
'This extra protection for water voles couldn't have come at a better time,' says Rainham manager Nick Bruce-White. 'With the centenary of Wind in the Willows fast looming it means future generations will be able to see real water voles in their natural surroundings.'
Alastair Driver, National Conservation Manager for the Environment Agency and Chair of the UK Water Vole Species Action Plan Group said: 'We welcome this announcement which is great news for water vole conservation. It not only serves to minimise deliberate persecution and accidental poisoning, but also clarifies the law for planners and developers.'
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