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Beavers will make the River Otter a forever home after successful completion of trial

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A beaver swimming in a river, its head barely visible above the water.
The trial has brought a wealth of benefits to the local area and ecology.

There is coverage in today’s Daily Telegraph, BBC Online, the i, Evening Standard, Times, Daily Mail, Guardian, ITV News Online, Daily Express, Devon Live, Express and Star, Yorkshire Post, Western Daily Press, Eastern Daily Press and Bournemouth Echo of our announcement that the five-year trial of beavers living on the River Otter has been completed successfully.

BBC Breakfast (06:54) and BBC R4 Farming Today (06:55) interviewed Minister Pow on a visit the River Otter yesterday, where she discussed the environmental benefits the beavers have brought to the local area, who including enhancing the environment at a local wildlife site, wetland habitat creation, and reducing flood risk for housing downstream.

Beavers were once native to Britain but were hunted to extinction around 400 years ago. The beavers will now be allowed to remain there permanently and continue to expand their range naturally, finding new areas to settle as they need.

The five-year trial run by the DWT and licensed by Natural England ends on 31 August 2020. Later this year, the government will consult on a strategy for the management of beavers in the wild and the national approach for any further releases.

On a visit to the project, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

Thanks to the hard work of the Devon Wildlife Trust and their partners, the River Otter beavers reintroduction trial has proven highly successful - improving biodiversity and water quality, mitigating flooding and making the local landscape more resilient to climate change.

We are firmly committed to providing opportunities to reintroduce formerly native species, such as beavers, where the benefits for the environment, people and the economy are clear.

But we also understand that there are implications for landowners, and take care to ensure that all potential impacts are carefully considered, and today we can confirm a new government consultation on our national approach and management will open later this year.

Natural England chair Tony Juniper said:

The River Otter trial has been a brilliant success, thanks to the professionalism and dedication of the team at Devon Wildlife Trust and Natural England scientists who have worked with them.

This work, carried out under a licence issued by Natural England, has confirmed the positive transformations that these animals can create, including the benefits they provide for many other species, such as fish, improving water quality and smoothing flood peaks.

Reintroductions of iconic species like the beaver will be an important part of the Nature Recovery Network. We now look forward to working towards the next stages of management of beaver more widely across England.

As outlined in our 25 Year Environment Plan, the government is committed to providing opportunities for the reintroduction of formerly native species, such as beavers, where there are clear benefits, as part of wider efforts to leave the environment in a better state for generations to come.

The government is developing a new Environmental Land Management scheme which will help to deliver the wildlife goals in our 25 Year Environment Plan. This scheme will reward farmers and land managers for delivering environmental measures, including the provision of habitats.

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  1. Comment by Michael Heylin OBE posted on

    It wasn't a trail it was an illegal release which NE did SFA about with the support of HMG!

  2. Comment by Roger Cartwright posted on

    good news - if Natural England can support this enlightened step in the right direction why have they excluded the native Exmoor pony herd from Gait Barrows NNR after 25 years of successful conservation grazing effort and dedication??

  3. Comment by William Hughes-Gaes posted on

    I'd really like to see the data on the effect beavers have had and will have in the future on flood peaks and low water levels. Do you have stilling wells on the river to monitor this.

    • Replies to William Hughes-Gaes>

      Comment by Chris JONES posted on

      We have an enclosed colony on our farm and we have observed a profound impact on flood peaks leaving the site. Uni Of Exeter are collecting the data which will be published in due course. The beavers have built 7 dams and have turned one stream into 3 (braiding) and creating water holding of some 3000 cubic metres on the site. Besides that we now have breeding willow tits on the site, as well as another 7 new birds records. Fish are getting more numerous and bigger - waiting now for our next fish survey for numbers on that.