More news...

May 3, 2018
Category: Abstraction
Posted by: Kathryn

With an ever-growing demand for drinking water and increasingly extreme weather events, how do we get the water we need without causing even more harm to our rivers?

May 2, 2018
Category: Drought
Posted by: Kathryn

Our riverfly monitors are back out in the centre of Chesham checking for life in the Chess now that flow has returned.

Mar 24, 2018
Category: HS2
Posted by: Kathryn

A public meeting with HS2 and the Environment Agency looked at the risks posed by tunnelling to the groundwater and rivers of the Chess and Misbourne Valleys.

Dec 31, 2017
Category: Conservation
Posted by: Kathryn

Restoration works to a tributary of the Chess are planned for early 2018.

Latest News

Voles Bounce Back

Oct 19, 2011

Category: Wildlife
Posted by: Kathryn

Water Vole - copyright Andrew ParkinsonWater vole numbers along the River Chess have increased significantly since 2009, according to the results of the latest survey by the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project (CCSP) and the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).

The water vole population on the Chess plummeted by 97% between 2001 and 2003 because of predation by invasive, North American mink that had become established along the river. As a result, BBOWT and the CCSP, working with landowners, set up a water vole recovery scheme on the river in 2004 and water vole numbers have subsequently recovered well. By 2009 the population had increased to 87% of its 2001 size. The 2011 survey has revealed even better news: “It’s fantastic to discover that the water vole population on the River Chess has fully recovered to its 2001 level”, says Julia Lofthouse, Water Vole Recovery Project Officer at BBOWT. 

This striking success has been a result of combining a catchment-wide mink control scheme with a series of projects to improve riverbank habitat for voles, reducing predation and helping water voles to colonise new areas of the river. “This is a brilliant result both for water voles and for all those who have worked so hard on the project.” says Allen Beechey, Chilterns Chalk Streams Project Officer, “However, it is important for us not to become complacent, as mink continue to be found along the river, with at least one being trapped in the last year and one being seen as recently as last July.  It is vital that landowners remain vigilant to ensure that we do not see a reversal of fortune for the river’s water voles.”

The RCA is delighted at this conservation success story, but supports the need for vigilance in monitoring for mink. If you have seen mink, or evidence of mink, in the Chess catchment, please let us know by getting in touch with us via the Contact Us page.