In a first for a construction firm, a rescue mission was launched by Glasgow-based City Building and Scottish Natural Heritage [SNH] to save endangered water voles living beneath a working site in Easterhouse, Glasgow.
After repair and upgrading work began on local housing association properties in Coxton Place in July 2016, an ecological survey conducted by a Glasgow City Council biodiversity officer uncovered a new burrow system underneath storage containers which made up the site’s staff facilities.
To protect their furry tenants, City Building applied for the first-ever licence to remove the water voles’ shelter and replace it with turf, which will root and grow to provide a more natural habitat.
Water voles are a legally protected species since their decline in the early 20th century – the UK population of water voles has dropped by 94% since the 1950s – and is close to extinction in many areas.
Alan Burns, City Building’s depute executive director, said: “By safely removing the storage containers and replacing them with turf, the area is now well established for the water voles to call home. For enhanced habitat protection, we also scattered wildflower seed and established a new mowing regime to ensure no future disturbance to the habitat.”
Water voles traditionally live in and around water but were recently discovered in Glasgow living in a more urban environment. Since then, large populations have been recorded in the east end of the city living in long grassland in parks, road verges, gardens and derelict land.