A Tale of Water Voles

November 06, 2010

Visitors to our new website can enjoy so much more than before thanks to a major redesign by award-winning Exeter design company Toucan.

Our new website can offer our visitors a search facility, to take them straight to the information they want, and an accessibility feature, enabling viewers to make the most of the website.  Josh Beadon, Creative Director and founder of Toucan, told the Trustees that they were delighted to sponsor the website and create a portal to what he described as “the tremendous work of this local conservation charity".

“We have given the website a whole new look!” said Josh. “Wildlife and the natural environment are key design elements which have been brought together to make the site look attractive and contemporary.

“But good looks alone aren’t enough! We have also given the site the functionality to make it easy for visitors to navigate to the information they want to view.”  We’re glad that Toucan has included a content management system ‘behind the scenes’ which will enable us to update the information ourselves.

Toucan provides a wide range of design and digital services from branding, packaging and publicity materials to exhibitions and websites.  www.toucandesign.co.uk 


A Tale of Water Voles


In 2004 the TVT reintroduced water voles into the Tale  Valley after an absence of at least 30 years.  To reach this point the Trust spent 4 years improving bankside habitat, liaising with farmers throughout the valley to fence stock out of the river – allowing vegetation both in the river & on the banks to thrive, & preventing vole tunnels from being crushed. At the same time American mink were monitored & trapped, being the vole’s most lethal & non indigenous predator.

This work was recognised by East Devon District Council, the Environment Agency & South West Water, to the extent that, in 2008 the SITA Trust, through the landfill Communities Fund, provided 3 years’ funding for an East Devon water vole project officer. Mervyn Newman  took up the role & has spent the last 3 years liaising with individuals & groups on the rivers Axe, Otter, Yarty, & Tale.

Mink have been trapped, several miles of river corridor have been fenced, coppiced & generally improved. Adjacent ponds & ditches have been dredged & restored, creating a lattice of suitable habitat and water voles have been released into the most suitable sites.

But the funding expires in February 2011 & won't be renewed. Whilst in the Tale Valley we are currently self sufficient, there is no doubt that our success has been enhanced by Mervyn through the considerable support he has been able to offer. 

Further afield on the other river corridors the worry is whether his   invaluable work will be wasted if the nettle is not grasped by volunteers & landowners, particularly in regard to mink control, without which vole populations have very little chance of survival.

A further introduction of some 50 water voles was made in the Tale Valley during August 2010 to     reduce inbreeding, in conjunction with new releases on the Axe.  In time, even in the absence of predators, small populations could collapse without the  introduction of new blood. 

So their future in east Devon outside the Tale Valley is uncertain.


Trust Secretary Jeremy Bradshaw-Smith retires after 11 years


When the Tale Valley Trust was born in 1999, Jeremy, a retired GP, was at hand to ensure a safe birth and to assist through the Trust’s early years.  He made sure that it was nurtured and cared for by helping to raise money to improve the lovely area we live in.  He attended over 100 meetings, raising the charity’s profile and making sure that when important decisions were made regarding it’s future, he was there, noting everything down and helping it to become the established charity it now is. His enthusiasm & local knowledge has cajoled several new Trustees into their appointments! When I joined the TVT some years ago, I was unsure what exactly

being a Trustee involved and didn’t for one moment expect to become Chairman!  I found however that I enjoy being part of a small group of

people trying to improve our beautiful valley and to establish a better 

environment for all.  I am part of a good, hardworking group of people who passionately believe in helping to improve this lovely countryside and I have learnt a lot along the way.  I know also that you need commitment to make sure things happen and that’s exactly what Jeremy has given.

I am confident that he in turn can be cajoled into becoming a Trustee and his commitment will continue.

Sarah Hogg  -  Chairman of Trustees


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