Godinton works in partnership with the Kentish Stour Trust and their dedicated volunteers in order to help conserve the natural environment – and in this case, especially our waterways and the creatures that inhabit them. In several surveys during recent years, we’ve found evidence of white-clawed crayfish and water voles inhabiting the river, both of which are endangered species in need of protecting, as are their habitats. White-clawed crayfish are native to the UK, but have been endangered since the 1970s and the introduction of the Signal Crayfish from North American, which quickly overran native populations, meaning today it is deemed an invasive species. Today, white-clawed crayfish are also under threat from various strains of plague, which have proved deadly to large reserves of them.
In recent ecological surveys, we’ve discovered small clusters of these rare crayfish in our waterways, and the hope is that through the creation of new habitats where therse crayfish can hide from predators, we will help protect the crayfish found in the Stour, and encourage population levels to rise. On a damp late August morning, a hardy group of six volunteers were down by the river creating habitats – or ‘refuges’ – for white-clawed crayfish. Creating a habitat essentially involves spreading rocks over our gravel-bottomed river bed in formations which make dark, sheltered spaces – one of the preferred habitats for crayfish.
Only time will tell if these habitats will help rebuild the white-clawed crayfish population in the Stour, but we certainly hope so!