Beavers in Scotland

The five year beaver reintroduction trial came to an end last month in Knapdale Forest, Scotland. The data collected by the trial will now by analysed by independent monitoring partners who will publish reports in due time. The beaver reintroduction trial was the first of its kind in the UK, examining the effect of reintroducing a species that was driven to extinction over 400 years ago.

Four families were introduced and all settled in well; they quickly got to work building lodges, and there have been a number of successful litters of kits. Their success in reproducing in a promising sign for the reintroduction of beavers in Scotland, which is what the trial is hoping to prove. Beavers have an impact on their surroundings that is far bigger than you would predict from such a small animal, in fact beavers are referred to as ‘keystone species’ by ecologists. The ability the beaver has to change and manipulate its surroundings has a huge knock on effect on all the surrounding flora and fauna. A study conducted in 2009 in North America found that beaver modification leads to a significant increase in plant species found at the water’s edge, this in turn provides new habitats for insects and small mammals leading to an increase in the number of bird species. In short, beavers can substantially increase the biodiversity of their habitat, with some species of plants only found in areas where there are beavers.

The end of the trial therefore marks an important mile stone; not only will its success encourage more trials of this kind to be undertaken, but it may mark the start of a thriving population of Scottish beavers again and all the new discoveries and wildlife that will come with them.

Scottish Beaver Trial

If you want to help out in the Scottish Beaver Trial then follow this link

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Rowena Gordon


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