Water voles could return to ponds in Hampshire forest
New ponds which could help revive the water vole population have been dug in a Hampshire forest.
The 10 ponds at Alice Holt Forest near Alton will also support toads, great crested newts, grass snakes and plants like pillwort.
They are intended to help wildlife cope with the effects of climate change.
The Million Ponds Project's Dr Pascale Nicolet said: "These forest pond complexes provide some of the most valuable clean water habitats."
The ponds can provide respite for wildlife from intense summer droughts and also help alleviate flooding during wetter months.
Forestry Commission ecologist Jay Doyle said: "In time as the ponds re-vegetate the possibility of re-establishing the water vole, of Wind in the Willows renown, to the forest will be explored.
"This declining species was historically known to reside in this part of east Hampshire."
The water vole is one of Britain's fastest declining mammals with habitat loss, wild mink and water pollution thought to be behind the falling numbers.
The ponds were created in the Forestry Commission-owned forest as a part of the Million Ponds Project, co-ordinated by wildlife charity Pond Conservation.