Naturally Native

Naturally Native has come to an end.
The project was a joint project between Tees Valley Wildlife TrustDurham Wildlife Trust and Northumberland Wildlife Trust and finished on 31st December. We are delighted to report that it achieved all its aims: we improved water vole habitat along 11km of riverbank, dug three fantastic ponds, spoke to over 700 school kids and an equal number of adults. And, of course, we removed a lot of mink from the region’s watercourses – 298 all told. So that’s a success. Huge thanks to the Project Team and all the wonderful volunteers who supported us.
The work isn’t finished though. The Trusts still care passionately about water voles and their habitat, and we want to see them regain their former range. That means we need to keep up the pressure on the mink.
The work we all have managed to achieve in aid of water vole conservation in the Northeast is staggering. We had a wonderful team who along with lots of volunteers worked hard to achieve the objectives.
It is not yet over though! Talks are continuing with Natural England, The Wildlife Trusts and other organisations/groups to organise a strategy going forward. With the support of volunteers work is still continuing in terms of Mink control and surveys and some other work and you never now what the future might bring. Well done to everyone involved. We are grateful to the support of National Lottery Heritage Fund

Who are we?

Naturally Native will stop the decline of our native water voles in the North East of England and ensure they can, once again, thrive along our rivers, streams and ponds.

With thanks to players of the National Lottery, Durham, Northumberland and Tees Valley Wildlife Trusts are working together to prevent the loss of one of our fastest declining species.  

Water voles, once common across the UK, have disappeared from over 95% of their former range leaving the species in a critical state and at threat of being lost completely from the lowlands of the North East.  This drastic decline is the compounding effect of two main causes.  Habitat loss and fragmentation has resulted in contracted, small and isolated populations of water voles which are incredibly vulnerable to the second major cause of decline: predation from introduced American mink. 

Working at a landscape scale to address both these issues, Naturally Native will prevent the inevitable loss of water voles from the lowlands and provide opportunities for this much loved mammal to re-colonies our river, streams and ponds.

What will we achieve?

Between Jan 2021 and October 2023, Naturally Native will be working across the Tyne, Wear and Tees River Catchments, creating a richer environment for wildlife and people.

The project will improve over 10km of riparian habitat and remove American mink to allow remaining water vole populations to expand in size and range. In addition to water voles, a wealth of other native wildlife will benefit including wetland bird populations, invertebrates and fish.  

The Naturally Native team will be working with young people across the North East to build skills and knowledge in local conservation issues. In addition, there will be opportunities for local communities to join in celebrating and enjoying our natural heritage as we work to restore balance within wetland ecosystems and shape a future where wildlife can thrive.

Get Involved!

Naturally Native is a fantastic opportunity for the North East to come together and make a stand against biodiversity loss.  

Water Vole Surveys

Water vole surveys are a volunteer-led activity; you can do them at a time and place of your choosing. What we are asking for is people to walk along water courses looking for signs of voles (burrows, latrines, feeding stations). We are not asking for a regular commitment of time. The surveys can fit in with your availability and location. Our aim is just to cover as many streams, burns, becks and drainage lines as possible, over the spring and summer months, when the voles are most active and most likely to be detected.

For more information on surveying for water voles and information packs please visit: Water vole surveys | Durham ( .

Young Volunteers

The Wildlife Trusts are dedicated to engaging the future custodians of our planet in our work and Naturally Native provides a fantastic opportunity for young people to get involved in preventing biodiversity loss in the North east, whilst learning more about current conservation issues and our natural environment.

Young Volunteer Groups

Tees Valley Wildlife Trust Young Rangers (14 – 19 year olds) – meet usually the first Saturday of each month. Visit Events – Tees Valley Wildlife Trust ( to book onto upcoming sessions.

Durham Wildlife Trust Naturally Native Young Rangers (14 – 18 year olds) – meet usually the first Saturday of each month. Book your place on each session at Events | Durham (

Northumberland Wildlife Trust Young Rangers (16 – 18 year olds) – meet usually the first Saturday of each month.

Please contact [email protected] for more information on any of the above groups.

Secondary Education

We have an exciting and engaging education program for secondary schools, eco and STEM clubs or other groups of a similar age range. Please contact us on [email protected] to receive a copy of our Secondary Education Brochure or to book a visit. 

 All sessions have been developed by a secondary education specialist and support the national curriculum. There will be no cost for the delivery of sessions thanks to funding from the National Lottery.

Naturally Native Facebook Page

For more information on the project or to get involved please contact Tom Richardson, who is the Tees valley Project officer for the Naturally Native Project:

And don’t forget……. Share your sightings of water voles, American mink and otters with us.

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