GWT supports beaver release in Forest of Dean

Friday 8th December 2017

Beaver swimming copyright Ben LeeBeaver swimming copyright Ben Lee

The government has announced that beavers will be released in the Forest of Dean in spring 2018, a move welcomed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

“We are delighted by this news, which follows careful research by the Forestry Commission,” says Dr Andrew Stringer, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Project Manager. “In particular, we are aware of the important role that beavers can play in preventing flooding. By building natural flood-management structures such as leaky dams, beavers can help to slow the flow of water, thereby providing vital protection to local communities from adverse weather. Currently at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, this type of work is successfully carried out by people, but it is time intensive. Beavers are nature’s ecosystem engineers and we will be excited to see their impressive impacts in the Forest of Dean.”

Beavers were driven from England 400 years ago and a trial reintroduction took place in Devon in 2015.

According to Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) the project will see two adult beavers and two kits released into a 6.5 hectare secure enclosure to help improve biodiversity and build dams and ponds from next year. This could be the first of many such schemes. Government guidance published today sets out a new framework for assessing applications for further trial releases across England. The proposal put forward by the Forestry Commission and approved by ministers has been granted full licence approval by Natural England (NE). This assessment has been key to ensuring the enclosure will be secure and NE will consider further applications for possible trial releases on a case by case basis, in line with the new guidance published today.

All the beavers will be fully tested for disease before they are released and a management plan will be put in place to make sure the enclosure remains secure. The Forestry Commission will also closely monitor the ecology and hydrology of the scheme throughout the trial which will help to understand the longer-term impacts and benefits to the local environment.

The project is being financed by the Forestry Commission as part of its normal operation activities supported by Forest Holidays.