DEDICATED volunteers have given more than £10,000 worth of their time to help save the water vole and other wildlife throughout the Cotswolds as part of a project for Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

The conservation charity asked for the help of volunteers just over a year ago. Since then 117 volunteers have stepped forward and provided 1,197 hours of their precious time to help the trust’s Cotswold Rivers Living Landscape Programme.

Jane Ford, a volunteer from Naunton, said: “It’s been great helping to improve the environment for our wildlife. It has been hard work, sometimes in the rain, but always great fun. It’s been a chance to work in a team, meet new people, learn a lot about our local environment and, overall, feel as if we’ve made a positive contribution.”

The volunteers put their hands to anything and have helped with a huge variety of tasks. In the last year they have built 15 barn owl boxes, cleared over-shading shrub, rebuilt degrading river banks using hazel bundles from the trust’s Lower Woods nature reserve.

surveyed river systems for water voles, removed invasive plants and constructed mink rafts.

Will Masefield, the trust’s Cotswold Rivers community wildlife officer, said: “Having the support of such a huge number of people who are willing to give up their time to help our wonderful wildlife is astounding.”

The trust still needs more voluntteers from around the Cotswolds to continue to help with work on the Windrush, Coln and Churn river systems. To find out more about becoming a volunteers, contact Will Masefield on 07739 307056 or email will.masefield@gloucestes The trust’s Cotswold Rivers Living Landscape Programme has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund which gave a grant of £48,600 to the project in September 2010.

The programme aims to enhance and connect the habitat of Gloucestershire’s water voles which are under threat of extinction, while protecting other wildlife such as kingfishers, trout and otters.