THE Elan Valley has been given status as an upland National Key site for water voles.

The Water Vole National Key Sites project is aiming to select a number of nationally important areas for water voles, many of which are National Nature Reserves, to make sure they are being correctly managed and to makes sure that monitoring is instituted long-term.

Scientific studies will be looking at why water voles in these key areas
do not fall “victim” to the mink as many others do, the study also looks to investigate ways in which the water vole population can be  extended into the surrounding areas.

Sorcha Lewis, co-ordinator of the Radnorshire Mammals Group said: “With the water vole population falling by 95 per cent due to mink predation they are pretty much threatened within the UK. It has been over the last few years that water voles have been surveyed in the uplands where they were never looked for before.”

The site being opened at Elan Valley puts it up there with well known places like Llanelli. The project has been half funded by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and Mr Baker, of the Elan Valley Trust, has praised the project.

He said: “It’s a national site and there’s only one or two sites who have got it. We’ve been grant aided by the CCW for the research, and they have provided 50 per cent of the funding. This helps ensure security of the status of the funding.”

The Elan Valley Trust lease a large part of the catchment on a 999 year lease off Welsh Water and they were set up to look after the conservation, access, recreation and education of people using the estate.