The National Trust is beavering away with plans for wildlife restoration
The National Trust has announced plans to release Eurasian Beavers at two sites in the south of England next spring (2020), to help with flood management and to improve biodiversity.
The plans, approved by Natural England, will see two pairs released, one at Halnicote near Exmoor in Somerset, and the other at Valewood on the Black Down Estate, on the edge of the South Downs. They are part of the National Trust's wider plan to restore 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) of 'wildlife-rich' habitats by 2025.
"Our aim is the beavers become an important part of the ecology, developing natural processes and contributing to the health and richness of wildlife in the area," said Ben Eardley, project manager for the National Trust at Holnicote. "Their presence in our river catchments is a sustainable way to help make our landscape more resilient to climate change and the extremes of weather it will bring. The dams the beavers create will hold water in dry periods and help to lessen flash-flooding and reduce erosion."
They will be the latest of a handful of beaver reintroductions in England and Scotland in recent years, more than four centuries after they were hunted to extinction in Britain for their fur, meat and scent glands.being introduced to the south of England.
David Elliott, lead ranger for Valewood, described beavers as "nature's engineers" and said they could "benefit a host of species".
The National Trust will spend the next few months preparing the sites in time for their arrival and both projects will be monitored, in terms of ecological and hydrological changes to habitat, with help from Exeter University.