Beaver Reintroductions Begin in Scotland

Beavers are back in the wild in Scotland for the first time in 400 years. Following a period of controversy, which saw the project vetoed by Scottish Ministers in 2005, two beaver families have finally been released into the wild in the Knapdale Forest, Argyll. A final family will be released tomorrow by Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish Government Environment Minister.

The beavers will be carefully monitored over the coming months, as will their impact on, amongst other things, water plants, river habitats, woodland, dragonflies and freshwater fish.

The project initially met resistance from landowners and the salmon fishing industry, concerned that beavers’ dams could block access by fish to their spawning grounds and could flood economically valuable woodland.

Speaking in advance of the release of the beavers, Roseanna Cunningham said: “Welcoming beavers back to Scotland marks a historic day for conservation. These charismatic creatures are not only likely to create interest in Scotland from further afield but crucially can play a key role in providing good habitat for a wide range of wetland species”. By thinning the forst canopy and creating lagoons next to watercourses, beavers can help to create wetland habitat.

Wales and England are planning beaver introductions within the next few years. Natural England began a consultation on suitable sites for beaver release in March this year, whilst Wales hopes to reintroduce beavers to the wild in two to three years time.