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Fri, Feb

Beavers return to Britain

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Beavers are Britain's native aquatic engineers and their return to sites in Scotland and England is doing wonders for the local environment, write Nigel Willby & Alan Law: restoring wetlands, recreating natural river dynamics and ecology, filtering farm pollutants from water, and improving habitat for trout and other fish.

In Knapdale, damming by beavers transformed a small pond into a wetland of a type and complexity probably unseen in Britain for centuries. On the Bamff estate on Tayside, we found that grazing by beavers trebled the number of wetland plants in 9 years.

Beavers have recently made a tentative return to Britain.

Beavers are Britain's native aquatic engineers and their return to sites in Scotland and England is doing wonders for the local environment, write Nigel Willby & Alan Law: restoring wetlands, recreating natural river dynamics and ecology, filtering farm pollutants from water, and improving habitat for trout and other fish.

In Knapdale, damming by beavers transformed a small pond into a wetland of a type and complexity probably unseen in Britain for centuries. On the Bamff estate on Tayside, we found that grazing by beavers trebled the number of wetland plants in 9 years.

Beavers have recently made a tentative return to Britain.

Scotland has led the way, with an official trial population in Knapdale, a remote area of lochs and forest in the west of the country; and another in Tayside to the east, suspected to come from private-collection escapees and unlicensed releases.

Further south, a small feral population in Devon in south-west England is currently being tolerated by officialdom and admired locally, while there are also plans for a trial in mid-Wales.

Should we let these beavers take up permanent residence? The Scottish government has first refusal. It is overdue to make a decision on the back of five years of scientific monitoring and other evidence.

While conservationists wait with bated breath, we think there's only one sensible choice - beavers should be allowed back.

Beaver dam in forest image via Shutterstock.

Read more at ENN Affiliate, the Ecologist.