World Photography DayAugust 19, 2021
Storytelling at the heart of the Scottish BordersSeptember 21, 2021
The Restoring Ratty project, a five year partnership effort to reintroduce water voles to the Kielder landscape, has come to an end. Supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund, this project is the culmination of decades of collaborative working to secure the future of this much loved and iconic mammal in the most remote and rural location in England.
It has been a pleasure to work alongside the Restoring Ratty team to support and evaluate a project which has achieved so much and laid the foundations for nature’s recovery in one of our wildest and most remote landscapes. Restoring Ratty is the second largest ever reintroduction of water voles in the UK. Lessons learnt from this project will inform ongoing water vole conservation in Kielder as well as future species reintroduction programmes and other initiatives.
The evaluation reflected on how the simplicity of the Restoring Ratty concept has been a significant strength of the project. This, together with strong imagery and the obvious connection to an iconic and ‘cute’ mammal, has created new opportunities to connect with project audiences.
In developing future projects I will seek to learn from this and support project teams to identify a strong and simple message to engage the community, local businesses, landowners and other stakeholders just as Ratty has done. I would also like to further explore the impact of a strong project character such as the water vole. I’m not sure how this would work for projects on a landscape scale, or where the focus is less ‘cute’, but I am keen to discuss the ‘personality’ of projects in future.