Kent Wildlife Trust welcomes golden opportunity for beavers to be wild

Kent Wildlife Trust welcomes golden opportunity for beavers to be wild

Terry Whittaker

New beaver consultation could herald better wetlands for wildlife and climate.

Kent Wildlife Trust welcomes the launch of a consultation by the Government this week, which asks the public if they want to see beavers released into the wild in England.

To date, the only officially sanctioned beavers living wild in the UK are in Scotland and along the River Otter in Devon, where Devon Wildlife Trust has worked with the local community to ensure they can thrive.

The Wildlife Trusts believe beavers should be allowed to return to the wild across the UK and expand their range naturally. The movement of 46 charities has been calling for ambitious strategies in England and the devolved nations to enable this to happen.

Beaver at Loch of the Lowes, Scottish Wildlife Trust (c) Ron Walsh

Beaver at Loch of the Lowes, Scottish Wildlife Trust (c) Ron Walsh

Chloe Edwards, Head of Wilder Landscapes at kent Wildlife Trust said: 

"Such an important week with the long-awaited launch of the Government’s consultation on the England Beaver Strategy. This is a huge step in securing the future of existing enclosed and wild-living beaver populations, both of which we have in Kent, as well as determining an appropriately considered and resourced approach to support all future releases. Fantastic to see the work of local initiatives like the East Kent Beaver Advisory Group flagged as an integral part of the proposed approach going forwards.

"Beavers are part of the solution we need to restore nature at scale and help us to become more resilient as a society to climate change and we very much welcome the recognition from Government in the ally we have in these amazing animals"

You can have your say until 17th November

The consultation paves the way for future releases into the wild that deliver significant benefits for nature and society. It includes proposing a practical system for supporting landowners and communities where beaver reintroductions have taken place and recognises that the quantifiable benefits of beaver reintroductions far outweigh any financial costs. The public have until 17th November to have their say about the future of this keystone species.

Beavers are industrious herbivores that are native to mainland Britain but were hunted to extinction in the 16th century by people who wanted their fur, meat, and scent glands. The end of beavers led to the loss of the mosaic of lakes, meres, mires, tarns, and boggy places that they were instrumental in creating. Their ability to restore and maintain important wetland habitats is why reintroducing this species is so important.

Kent Wildlife Trust hosts an enclosed reintroduction at our Ham Fen nature reserve. We began by releasing two families of Norwegian beavers in 2001. At the last count, there were ten beavers on site.The beavers are contained within the 30-hectare site near Sandwich. This Project began because of the challenges of restoring the last fenland in Kent using machinery. The conditions made it difficult to get machinery in and out of the site, and the costs were very high.