Beaver Release in Britain – Zoe Neal, The Weald School
Beavers are known as a key species because of their great positive impact on the natural environment. Through the laborious construction of dams and digging channels, beavers provide habitats that can be inhabited by a wide variety of species. These include: water voles, frogs, toads, otters, water shrews, birds (e.g. teal) and a variety of insects that occupy the dead wood created when beavers cut down trees. Also, contrary to popular belief, beavers DO NOT eat fish. They are actually herbivores that tend to feast on aquatic plants and grasses, as well as the bark, twigs and leaves of trees, and therefore provide fish with a place to thrive rather than hunting them as prey.
Dams not only provide habitats for a diversity of life to thrive, they also provide a natural solution to improve the function and health of river basins. Studies have shown that beaver dams reduce the impact of flooding by up to 60% by reducing water velocity and flow; This mechanism is also a solution for periods of drought where water can be used in pools. But the services of the dams do not end there. As a result of agricultural runoff, harmful chemicals such as nitrates and phosphates found in fertilizers pollute and are transported along rivers, where they can have worrying health effects on organisms that use the water. However, beaver dams can reduce the concentration of organic sediment that would end up in the sea and capture the harmful chemicals, thus improving water quality downstream.
Can we live peacefully with beavers?
In May 2019, beavers were declared a native species in Scotland and were also granted European protected species status, meaning action had to be taken to prevent beavers from being shot or harmed in any way. Similarly, following the success of the River Otter Beaver Trial in Devon, the UK government in England announced that the River Otter beaver could remain wild and in October 2022 English beavers also gained European protected species status, predicting that their Stay will not be short -lived. But despite the wonders of the beaver, there are some concerns from farmers and those with land in close proximity to beaver territory about their return to the UK and the impact this will have on their land in terms of flooding and tree destruction. However, research shows that humans are able to live harmoniously with beavers if the situation is managed well. For example, the Cornwall Beaver Project is studying how conflicts can be resolved with humans and how beavers affect water and other wildlife.
It can be argued that beavers can be a nuisance at times, but they should be considered in terms of their positive impact on wildlife and landscapes. They are also environmentally conscious – a natural, sustainable solution to limiting environmental disasters.
There have been a number of closed beaver trials to date, and now free-roaming populations have established themselves on rivers across the country. As such, we can only expect the population of these elusive and unique mammals to continue to increase in the future, benefiting our environment and encouraging people to appreciate and interact with nature.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/23300383.rewilding-beavers-uk—zoe-neal-weald-school/?ref=rss Beaver Release in Britain – Zoe Neal, The Weald School