Water voles and engineers form an uneasy mix, and the massive decline in the vole population is due to riparian engineering systems as well as predation by introduced mink. Water voles need to burrow into banks, so piling and concrete engineering solutions create a problem for them. Equally, on sites where the animals are common, their burrowing can create a problem for engineers.
British Waterways has set up a water vole conservation project which, in addition to recording the remaining poulations, has investigated a number of vole-friendly bank engineering systems.
Latest development is the experimental use of 'vole-habs'; wooden boxes placed behind lower piling which allow the animals to burrow within and beyond the boxes into the bank behind.