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Trial finds benefits to people and wildlife from beavers living wild in English countryside - University of Exeter

A major five-year study into the impacts of beavers on the English countryside has concluded that the water-living mammals can bring measurable benefits to people and wildlife.

The study focusses upon the work of the River Otter Beaver Trial which has been led by Devon Wildlife Trust, working in partnership with the University of Exeter, Clinton Devon Estates and the Derek Gow Consultancy.

Beavers have brought benefits for humans and wildlife (credit DWT/Mike Symes)
Beavers have brought benefits for humans and wildlife (credit DWT/Mike Symes)

Evidence presented by scientists who have studied the beavers since 2015 has concluded that the “quantifiable costs and benefits of beaver reintroduction [of wild beavers to the River Otter, in East Devon] demonstrates that the ecosystem services and social benefits accrued are greater than the financial costs incurred”.

The ‘Science and Evidence Report’, published today (17 February), is based on research undertaken by a team of scientists overseen by Professor Richard Brazier from the University of Exeter.

It concludes that other wildlife has greatly benefitted from the beavers’ presence, while their dam building activities have also helped reduce the risk of flooding to some flood threatened human settlements.

It also concludes that while beavers have created localised problems for a handful of farmers and property owners, these can be successfully and straightforwardly managed with the right support and intervention.

The 130-page report is published today by the River Otter Beaver Trial and is the culmination of a five-year study of England’s first licensed release of beavers into the wild in England since they were hunted to extinction more than 400 years ago.

The report can now be accessed via the University of Exeter website, and contains links to on-line videos and scientific papers and research reports compiled during the trial period

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