• Defra announces ‘pioneering’ wildlife decision
• Secures a future for the first ever reintroduction of an extinct
native mammal to England
• Stamp of approval for five years’ of ground-breaking work by
Devon Wildlife Trust
After years of uncertainty, England’s first wild breeding population of beavers for 400 years has been given the permanent right to remain in their East Devon river home.
The decision announced today by Defra is a landmark one, as it signals the first legally sanctioned reintroduction of an extinct native mammal to England. It means that the beaver population, which lives on the River Otter and is estimated to consist of up to 15 family groups, now has a secure future.
The announcement comes after the successful completion earlier this year of a five-year trial overseeing the animals and their impacts led by the charity Devon Wildlife Trust.
In February the project published a ‘Science and Evidence Report’ overseen by independent researchers from the University of Exeter. This concluded that the beavers’ presence had brought benefits to people and wildlife living along East Devon’s River Otter.
Key findings in the report highlighted how:
Other wildlife – especially fish, insects, birds and endangered mammals such as water voles - had greatly benefitted from the beavers’ presence because of the ways in which beavers enhance wetland habitats.
The beavers’ dam building activities had also helped reduce the risk of flooding to some flood-threatened human settlements.
The positive role that beavers could have in improving water-quality, with their dams acting as filters which trap soil and other pollutants from surrounding farmland.
The report highlighted some localised problems for a small number of landowners where beavers were present, but that these had been successfully managed with support and intervention from Devon Wildlife Trust.