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Rewilding the UK: -

Eurasian Beaver reintroduction for north-west England has been given a green light

The Eurasian #beaver (Castor fiber), a large herbivore, is a mammal that was formerly native to the UK, playing an important part in our landscape from prehistoric times until it was hunted to extinction in the 16th century for its fur, meat and scent glands.

Eurasian beavers eat mainly aquatic plants, grasses, ferns and shrubs, but at other times, woody species form the major part of their diet.

They live in family groups with an average of about five individuals, comprising adults, kits and yearlings.

Females produce a single litter of one to six kits per year (average about 3).

Eurasian beavers...

  • are easiest to see in daylight between May & September

  • are semi-aquatic, mostly active at dawn and dusk, and do not hibernate.

The loss of the Eurasian Beaver led to loss of the mosaic of...

  • lakes,

  • meres,

  • mires,

  • tarns and

  • boggy places

...that they so brilliantly built.

Why are we bringing back the Eurasian beaver?

No it isn't just about the reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver - it's about the #reintroduction of an entire #ecosystem that's been lost.

Eurasian beavers are often referred to as 'ecosystem engineers'.

They make changes to their habitats, such as...

  • digging canal systems,

  • damming water courses, and

  • coppicing tree and shrub species

...which in turn creates diverse wetlands.

The resulting wetlands can also bring enormous benefits to other species, such as...

  • otters,

  • water shrews,

  • water voles,

  • water birds,

  • frogs

  • invertebrates (especially dragonflies) and

  • breeding fish.

Landscapes generated by the Eurasian beavers benefit both us and #wildlife...

  • they help to reduce downstream flooding - the channels, dams and wetland habitats that beavers create hold back water and release it more slowly after heavy rain

  • they increase water retention

  • they clean water

  • they reduce siltation, which pollutes water

Local re-introduction…

As you may be aware, I live quite close to #Cumbria where the Eurasian beavers are soon to be re-introduced in an…

“…enclosed Scientific Trial”

A licence application for a trial at the Lowther Estate in the Eden Valley has been approved by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

David Bliss, of the Lowther Estate, said the release of the Eurasian beavers would be used to…

"…assess how beavers can restore small, modified streams within a farmed landscape."

Eurasian Beavers will be reintroduced a 27-acre enclosure in woodland, grassland and wetland (#LowtherEstate)

The Lowther Estate is part of the Cumbria Beaver Group, which also includes Cumbria Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and Eden Rivers Trust and which is working with other organisations and local people to facilitate the managed return of Eurasian Beavers to the area.

A family of Eurasian Beavers, with an adult male and female and up to four kits, will be taken from the Tay catchment in Scotland where Eurasian Beavers have been living wild since escaping or being illegally released some years ago.

What do we bring back next?

Centuries ago, bears, wolves and lynx roamed the Scottish Highlands, but would there be room for them now?

Perhaps surprisingly, the answer may be yes.


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