After an absence of over 400 years, the beaver is coming back to Sussex.
These natural ecosystem engineers, which help so much with natural flood management and water quality, were hunted to extinction in the UK in the 16th Century.
But, thanks to The Sussex Beaver Trial, a partnership led by Sussex Wildlife Trust and the rewilding project at the Knepp Estate near Horsham, there will be a re-introduction of two pairs of beaver in either late spring 2020 or in the autumn, in Knepp’s Southern Block.
The beavers will be released under Natural England licence in two locations within a large enclosed area for a five-year period to see how they settle into and adapt to their new environment. The beavers will have over 250 hectares of land, including extensive swathes of willow, available to them, where they can roam and do what they do best – natural coppicing and natural flood management.
Beavers are extraordinary hydrological engineers, able to build leaky dams and lodges, and create channels and deep pools. This activity will provide natural flood management benefits within the Adur catchment, as well as maintaining a base flow of water in drought conditions.
Isabella Tree, co-owner of Knepp Estate said ‘This is a dream come true for us. We know beavers are one of the biggest influences missing from our landscape. Not only are they masters of water management, they’re hugely beneficial to biodiversity. Insects, birds, aquatic plants, fish will all gain from the intricate habitats they create. I am longing for the day when I hear a beaver tail slapping on Hammer Pond.’