Rivers & Wetlands Project

The Rivers & Wetlands project covers Biodiversity Action Plan species such as bullhead, southern damselfly, white-clawed crayfish and great crested newts (see HCT or Froglife websites), but focuses in detail on just two species; otter and water vole.


  • Otters are monitored by over 100 'otter spotters' who have charted the remarkable recovery of otters in Dorset since their catastrophic decline in the 1950's due to poisoning by organophosphates.
  • Otters are now present on virtually every river catchment in Dorset, and the R&W project works very closely with the Dorset Otter Group in order to tackle the largest cause of otter mortality today - road deaths.
  • By surveying road bridges otter death 'hot spots' can be identified, and we work with a range of relevant organisations to implement solutions at these bridges so that otters can pass safely under them.
  • More information about otters in Dorset, including a distribution map and videoclips, can be found at www.dorsetottergroup.org

Water voles

  • Water Vole surveys are carried out every five years to take a 'snapshot' of the status of this mammal in the county.
  • Although the water vole is considered one of Britains most endangered mammals and is rapidly declining in many areas, Dorset contains Core Area populations of water voles in the Lower Frome, the area around Gillingham, the Wey & Jordan and the Bride & Brit, as well as other smaller populations.
  • All this information is being fed into the National Water Vole Mapping Project.
  • Water Vole populations are threatened by habitat loss and predation by American Mink.
  • The R&W project works with the gamekeeping community and organisations such as British Association of Shooting and Conservation and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust to promote best practice in controlling mink (Wildlife Trust Mink Control Policy available) and to advise landowners on how to manage riparian habitat for water voles (fact sheet available on request).




Water meadows at
Nunnery Mead

otter - WildStock

Otters returning to Dorset

Water Vole - Graham Case

'Ratty' - Water Voles are doing well in some areas


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