Are beavers welcome back in Scotland?
The beaver (Castor fiber) reintroduction which started in Scotland, UK, in 2008 was studied to understand if and how the reintroduction developed into a conservation conflict between people over a conservation process, and whether social, cultural and conceptual issues were at stake. We focused on three situations in Scotland, where the reintroduction process took place differently. In Knapdale, the reintroduction was planned and scientifically-led, whereas in Tayside and in the Highlands, the reintroduction was accidental and/or illegal. It was shown that based on a literature review and interviews with stakeholders, the situation has not yet developed into a conflict at the national scale. However, at the local scale, there was conflict in Tayside, where the reintroduction also occurred within a highly productive agricultural area where the beaver population has since thrived and expanded. Overall, the study showed the conflict was dependent on three main issues: the reintroduction process, relationship issues between stakeholders and broader debates on species reintroductions. Based on these findings, the study outlines lessons learned in terms of management, guidelines and implications for future species reintroductions. With reintroductions becoming more common, our study highlights a number of key issues relating to social dimensions of reintroductions that need to be considered in future reintroduction processes, including stakeholder perspectives on their role in nature, their perceptions of landscapes and the potential issue of lack of control and uncertainty around reintroductions.