Water voles given extra protection in the Manhood Peninsula

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A £10,000 lottery grant has been awarded to a wildlife group in the Manhood Peninsula which will be used to help protect water voles.

The funding was presented to the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group.

Chairman of the group, Jill Sutcliffe, said the group is going to map out areas where there are water voles and produce leaflets to inform landowners of how they can help protect this species.

Community wildlife officer in the group Sarah Hughes said: “This is excellent news. The Big Lottery Community Wildlife grant will enable us to raise the profile of this most threatened and engaging mammal, ensure people know what it needs and undertake practical conservation work to safeguard its future for generations to come.”

Water voles are a priority Biodiversity Action Plan species and have experienced one of the fastest declines of any native mammal in the 20th century.

Populations in West Sussex are critically low and it is estimated we have lost more than 90 per cent in the past 30 years.

On the Manhood Peninsula they live in streams, ponds or on the edge of the harbours.

These populations are threatened as much of the habitat they use is not designated and forms part of the wider countryside between internationally and nationally important coastal sites such as Pagham and Chichester harbours.

The only remaining large numbers of native water voles based in Sussex are on the Manhood Peninsula, and on Pett and Rye Levels (East Sussex).

In 2008, legal protection was extended to cover the water voles.