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FEBRUARY 2024

 

British beavers

Hunted for their fur, glands and meat, beavers became extinct in England during the 16th century.  But after a decade of successful breeding programs within the UK, the semi-aquatic mammal is back and is due to be reintroduced to London, the first-time beavers have lived in the capital for more than 400 years.

This autumn two Eurasian beavers, one of the most impactful, native ecosystem engineers will be introduced to their new London habitat.  This collaborative project will give people access to a rewilded landscape to experience firsthand these animals’ incredible abilities to create nature rich wetlands.  With their dam and canal creation, Beavers create wetlands and deadwood making the ideal habitats for insects, amphibians, and even water voles.  They also slow the flow of waterways, preventing flooding and filtering water, thus improving water quality.

A licence has been granted by Natural England to reintroduce Eurasian beavers to Ealing in a controlled enclosure trial at Paradise Fields in North Greenford.  This is a joint project between Ealing Wildlife Group, Ealing Council, Citizen Zoo, Friends of Horsenden Hill and is also supported by experts at the Beaver Trust. 

Following a series of visits, Paradise Fields was identified as a highly suitable habitat for beaver reintroduction and a flagship London rewilding project.  The intention is to enclose most of the 10-hectare site and uniquely allow visitors to enter an immersive experience in a rewilding beaver landscape.

 

By studying the impact of beavers in an urban landscape and in an enclosed trial it is hoped wider, free-living beaver reintroduction can be considered over the coming years.

The project has received substantial funding from the Mayor of London as part of his Rewild London Fund.

Some experts suggest there are hundreds of beavers living wild along England’s waterways.

In 2022, beavers were given legal protection in England, making it illegal to kill or harm them as they are formally recognised as native wildlife.  Environmentalists hope the upcoming beaver strategy will pave the way for this beloved rodent to be released to roam wild.

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