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Bringing Beavers Back...

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Published on Oct 3, 2017

Boost for Beavers
Wildwood Trust are thrilled to announce that two of our beavers are set to be released to reinforce the population in the Knapdale Forest in Scotland this week.
Two beavers from Wildwood Trust near Canterbury in Kent will be travelling up to Scotland this week. Eventually up to 28 beavers will be released into the Knapdale Forest over the next three years. The idea behind the project is to give the small beaver population the best possible chance of thriving in the long-term and to increase the genetic diversity.
Lead partners at the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) & Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) have gained a license for this vital work from the Scottish Government recognising the significant contribution beavers will make to our landscape and restoration of wildlife rich wetlands.
Wildwood Trust have been supporting the reintroduction of beaver back to the UK since 1999 when our charity pioneered the first beaver release into the UK with Kent Wildlife Trust. Since that time, we have developed skills in beaver management and Wildwood’s experts have imported Beavers from the most genetically diverse sources in Europe to our Beaver Conservation Centre.
All beavers have had extensive health screening to ensure that they are healthy and free from disease before their release into the wild.
The reinforcement will be carried out by ‘Scottish Beavers’, a new partnership between the SWT and RZSS created to continue the work of the Scottish Beaver Trial, under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage.

Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust Director said:
“The initial projects to reintroduce beavers at different parts of the UK have now hit a genetic bottleneck and it is vital that these new beavers are released to maintain a healthy population.”

“This is a personal triumph for Wildwood Trust and myself as our charity have been working for 17 years on getting beavers back into the British countryside. Wildwood Trust was formed by a group of conservationists directly from efforts to bring beavers back to the UK within our wider conservation mission to rewild Britain. “

“Now that the Scottish Government has decided beavers can stay and receive legal protection, we have a duty to reinforce the population and ensure that they have a chance to thrive. By introducing beavers from a range of sources, we aim to increase their genetic diversity and give them the best possible chance of thriving for the long-term.”

Susan Davies, Director of Conservation at SWT, said: “Reinforcing the population at Knapdale is an exciting step forward for the future of beavers in Scotland. We’re thankful to Forest Enterprise Scotland for hosting the Scottish Beaver Trial, and for their continued assistance with monitoring the population in mid-Argyll.

Beavers are natural engineers with a unique ability to create new wetland habitats. They can benefit wildlife including otters, water voles, and dragonflies, and long-term research in Tayside has shown how their presence has revitalised previously drained land by doubling the range of plant species.

“The ponds and pools created behind beaver dams can also help improve water quality and regulate flooding, and their return to Scotland has great potential to boost our growing wildlife tourism industry.”

Beavers were first introduced to Knapdale Forest in April 2009 through the Scottish Beaver Trial. In November 2016 the Scottish Government announced that beavers were allowed to remain and naturally expand from Knapdale and Tayside. This marked the first successful reintroduction of any wild mammal to the UK.

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