The National Trust has just released two beavers on the edge of the South Downs into a 15 hectare fenced area making it the second licensed release of this fascinating mammal by the conservation charity in the last 15 months.
A male and female have been re-introduced, in the hope they will become a breeding pair.
Having once been an important part of the ecosystem, beavers became extinct in Britain in the 16th century because of hunting for their fur, meat and scent glands.
This is the first release by the Trust in south east England, following the successful pilot at Holnicote on Exmoor early last year where the beavers have thrived.
The release is part of the charity’s ambitions to create priority habitats for nature and to increase the diversity of species and wildlife on the land in its care.
David Elliott, National Trust Lead Ranger for the South Downs West, said: “Today we are reintroducing a species which has been absent from this landscape for the last 400 years. Beavers are nature’s water engineers, they can help bring back the natural processes that have been missing from our environment.
“By creating their dams, the beavers will create new and wildlife-rich wetlands; ponds, rivulets and boggy areas that will, over the next few years, benefit a range of wildlife including amphibians such as frogs and toads, many dragonflies and damselflies and wildflowers such as Devil’s-bit scabious that love damp meadows. They’ll help us create a pyramid of life based on wetlands – including bird and bat species as their prey increases in abundance.”