Elmwood College HND Countryside Management students have been involved in improving the habitat of water voles at Kellie Castle.
The 12 week project, which began in September, is a partnership between the National Trust for Scotland gardeners at Kellie castle, Elmwood College and the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust Ranger Service.
The proposal came as a result of the catastrophic decline in water vole numbers across the UK. The two main reasons are the loss of habitat and increased predation by non-native American mink.
A Fife wide initiative to reduce the number of mink is now starting to show results. This creates the opportunity to improve habitat. Any increase in water vole numbers as a result of this will have a better chance of survival with mink numbers lowered.
The scheme is primarily concerned with planting water vole friendly vegetation which also allows for easier access up and down the waters edge for the water voles. The Partners are also looking into preventing erosion to the Kellie Castle waterfall.
Elmwood College Student Jamie Webster said, “This is a great opportunity for us to work on a real life conservation project. We are gaining valuable experience working alongside Bob Weston, Fife countryside ranger and the gardening staff at Kellie Castle. Working together as a team and putting the theory into practice will make the project a success.”
Although the actual project is scheduled for 12 weeks, there is a longer term timetable of tasks being planned which will be carried out by future students over the coming years to ensure improvements continue for the water vole’s survival.
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