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Beaver trial gets go-ahead in Cumbria

Posted: 15/01/20

Beavers, a native species in Britain which became extinct in the 16th century, will soon be reintroduced to Cumbria in an enclosed scientific trial. Cumbria Beaver Group (CBG), which includes Cumbria Wildlife Trust, has announced that a licence application by a landowner in Cumbria has just been approved by the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This will be the first beaver trial in the North West of England and will take place at the Lowther Estate in the Eden Valley.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Lowther Estates and Eden Rivers Trust make up the Cumbria Beaver Group. The group are working in consultation with Natural England, the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Forestry England, the University of Cumbria and others. Cumbria Beaver Group is working closely with local people and has undertaken feasibility studies across a number of sites in Cumbria.

The reintroduction of beavers to an area can have a number of environmental benefits, these can include flood risk alleviation, habitat creation for other wildlife and improved water quality. There can also be economic benefits for an area as increased nature based tourism can increase revenue for the local economy.

The scheme will not allow for beavers to able to move into the wider surrounding countryside. However, in the future, if the government decides that beavers can be allowed to return to the wider countryside and establish free-living populations, the Cumbria Beaver Group advocates that any reintroduction is well planned, well managed and has the support of the local community. A second license has been applied for by a private individual at an undisclosed location in South Cumbria and is awaiting approval. The aim of this trial is to assess the impact of beavers on a small stream system in an upland woodland, helping to slow the flow, with the expectation of creating new habitat that’s beneficial to the surrounding environment and wildlife.

For more information and to view Cumbria Wildlife Trusts article, please click here.