Wildlife Trusts all over Britain will release a record number of beavers into the wild this year, including in some areas where they’ve been extinct for hundreds of years.
Current plans to reintroduce populations of the industrious rodents could see them released into enclosed areas by Wildlife Trusts in Dorset, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and Montgomeryshire.
Of the many species which campaigners would like to see fully reintegrated into the UK’s ecosystems, beavers are among the most popular with the public, attracting as much as 76 per cent support in recent polling.
Why are beavers being reintroduced?
Many environmental campaigners enthusiastically back the reintroduction of beavers into Britain’s countryside and river systems, as they are recognised as a “keystone species” which help foster greater biodiversity and restore natural habitats.
The dams that beavers build have been found to encourage growth in other species, including birds, fish, plants and insects.
It is also thought that their constructions can help to reduce flooding in downstream areas, although there are concerns that if left unchecked dams could lead to other flooding-related issues.
While there have been a number of unofficial releases of beaver populations in parts of England, the majority of current official populations live in enclosed areas.
Where will they be reintroduced?
The first licensed release of beavers in Wales will take place this year, with the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust planning to introduce a number of the rodents at the Cors Dyfi reserve near Machynlleth.
Dorset Wildlife Trust will be releasing a number of beavers on an unspecified wetland reserve and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust plans to introduce a number of the animals to the Idle Valley nature reserve.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust will be releasing two families of beavers into an enclosed area on the Willington Wetlands nature reserve.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust have plans to release a family of beavers at an as yet undisclosed location, although the plans are subject to approval.