Beaver Management Groups: Capturing lessons from the River Otter Beaver Trial and River Tamar Catchment.
This report describes the findings from a previous, peer-reviewed study regarding the experiences of stakeholders involved in governing the River Otter Beaver Trial (ROBT) and explores the applicability of those findings to Beaver Management Group (BMG) settings. This was achieved through an analysis of interviews with individuals involved with Beaver management in the Tamar catchment in south-west England, UK. The findings are discussed in relation project governance, stakeholder engagement, research and monitoring programme, strategy to manage arising conflicts, public engagement and broad perspectives on reintroduction trials. The stages in the BMG process were formation (foundation stage involving high investment in stakeholder identification, relationship-building and knowledge-sharing), functioning (where a group is in action, involving the engagement of stakeholders and communities with an adaptive membership and the management of both Beaver populations and human-beaver interactions) and future (the future need and/or role of BMGS in the long term). Three external factors influenced these stages of this process, including reaction or pro-action (where proactive BMGs may form prior to Beaver presence in a catchment, and reactive BMGs may form where beavers already exist), national context (national-scale decisions are being made which will interact with the BMG) and resource limitations (where financial or time constraints may influence the ability of a BMG to achieve its objectives to maximize benefits and minimize conflicts associated with Beaver reintroduction). In conclusion, BMGs can be adaptive structures that evolve in reflection of changing circumstances and new learning. Rather than being a fixed governance structure, they are a process that seeks to facilitate renewed coexistence between humans and beavers in catchment settings.