Defra has today launched a consultation on proposals for further reintroductions of Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) in England and the management of the species in the wild.
Under the Government’s proposals, applications for licences to release beavers into the wild would need to meet certain criteria, including demonstrating positive stakeholder engagement and local buy in, and proof that a comprehensive assessment has been undertaken of the impacts on surrounding land, the water environment, infrastructures, habitats, and protected species. Projects must also ensure that support for landowners and river users is put in place.
The consultation is seeking views on:
- Potential future releases into the wild
- Current and future releases into enclosures
- Mitigation and management of beaver activity or impacts in the wild, including the River Otter population and all other existing wild living beaver populations
The UK Government has also announced its intention to provide beavers with protection in England meaning it will become an offence to capture, kill, disturb or injure them, or damage breeding sites or resting places. This is already the case in Scotland where they were declared a protected species in May 2019.
Chair of Natural England, Tony Juniper, said:
The launch of Defra’s consultation today marks an important and positive moment for the future of these wonderful animals in England. Beavers are not only fascinating creatures in their own right, but are also ecosystem engineers that will play a key role in restoring and linking habitats, in the process bringing many environmental benefits, like we have seen in the highly successful River Otter trial in Devon – hugely positive transformations, including the creation of wetland habitat, improving water quality and smoothing flood peaks. I encourage everyone to respond, so that the way we shape the future of wild Beavers reflects as many perspectives as possible.
Decisions on the reintroduction of formerly native species in England are made based on the principles set out in the Government’s code of best practice for reintroductions, which was published in May this year.
Alongside the consultation document, Natural England has published a series of reports including A review of the evidence on the interactions of beavers with the natural and human environment in relation to England and a report of Beaver reintroductions in England 2000 – 2021.
CIEEM Head of Policy and Communications Jason Reeves said:
CIEEM is pleased to see this consultation on reintroducing beavers to England. As ecosystem engineers, beavers can have wide-ranging benefits for other species – including humans – as we collectively work to restore the depleted nature of England.