Our Axnoller Farm in Dorset is not just home to hundreds of our rescued donkeys but also a conservation project to reduce the growth of Himalayan balsam which was threatening the resident population of one of the rarest mammals in the British countryside.
We know we have a population of water voles in the streams and ponds at Axnoller Farm and given that numbers of these beautiful creatures have declined by an estimated 90% in the last 20 years across the UK, it is vitally important that we protect their habitat.
Over recent years, the pond and stream have become invaded by Himalayan balsam and it is thanks to the efforts of our volunteer team that we are getting on top of this riverside plant. If left untended, Himalayan balsam grows incredibly quickly and can out compete all other vegetation on the riverbank. Water voles rely on a variety of grasses and rushes to feed on and clearing the balsam means our voles have a healthy environment to live in.
During an autumn visit to Axnoller Farm I spent an afternoon looking for signs of the water voles around the pond and removing the last few traces of balsam.