Reptile and water vole translocation, Wallasea

The brief

A partnership between the RSPB and Crossrail has seen waste material from a major cross-London rail project being used in the creation of a new 670ha nature reserve in Essex. The land has been transformed into marshes, lagoons and mudflats to attract birds and other wildlife. Thomson Ecology was initially commissioned by Bam Nuttall to assist with reptile translocation.

What we did

Approximately 20 ecologists translocated reptiles on site, to a tight deadline, within the optimal translocation season.

The following Spring, 30 ecologists translocated the water voles in the area to a suitable receptor site under a protected species licence. This translocation was the biggest of its kind undertaken to date in the UK.

We also

  • supplied and installed the water vole fencing
  • installed earth coffer dams to block off ditches and facilitate the drain-down
  • cleared over 125,000 m2 of vegetation within ditches and on the banks to facilitate the trapping and displacement
  • destructively searched 9000m of water vole ditches and over 1000 burrows
  • supplied and installed 30 custom water vole release pens within the receptor area.

We worked with Natural England and a doctorate student to test the efficacy of a new method of water vole displacement. This was done alongside more traditional methods.

The outcome

We completed an exceptionally large-scale translocation of both water voles and reptiles on budget and on time. Works are ongoing at the site and when complete, this will be Europe’s largest nature reserve.

Our Covid-19
Business Response

Find out more