Beavers Work, If Permitted
We are beaver believers and welcome you to join our mission to recover Britain’s waterways and land by working with our long lost friend, the beaver.
The Beaver Trust is a new charity helping landowners and communities. We support beaver reintroduction projects and raise awareness of the benefits of beavers and how to live happily alongside them again.
We need to reverse the downward trajectory towards ecological annihilation in Britain. Now. This is not news. We need a network of interconnected spaces for nature, from farms and nature reserves to wildlife corridors and green cities.
What better way of creating a mosaic of wildlife-friendly places than following the thousands of miles of rivers and streams that criss-cross our land? We cannot farm rivers, so let’s allow them space to flow naturally and slowly, and bring back the keystone species that once shaped them: Castor Fiber, the Eurasian (but very British) Beaver.
Sadly, our ancestors ate and wore beavers to extinction. Until 400 years ago, beavers cleaned and slowed our water, providing homes for wildlife including fish, insects, mammals and amphibians. They showed us how to build, farm, irrigate and attract abundant food. Following successful reintroductions, they have started once again to protect our homes from floods, store water for lean times and provide a safe haven for pollinating insects and bats. Beavers benefit us.
We don’t lack the evidence. Experiments conducted throughout Britain (like the Scottish Beaver Trial at Knapdale) show the many benefits of beavers. The River Otter Beaver Trial results will be reported to Defra in January 2020. Scientists like those at Royal Zoological Society for Scotland and University of Exeter have gathered reams of data on flood attenuation, biodiversity and socio-economics. Devon Wildlife Trust has produced a Beaver Management Strategy Framework. Colleagues from 200 projects in 26 countries across Europe have decades of studies that prove fishing, pollution, water tables, floods, pollination dramatically improve in and around beaver wetlands.
The jury is no longer out. Beavers work.
But we need the rules to change. It is illegal to introduce beavers without a license from Natural England or a fence. Despite 40 million years of living in Britain, they are still regarded in law as an invasive rodent in England and Wales.
The Beaver Trust and our alliance urges Natural England and the Westminster government to recognise beavers as a normally resident and protected species, just as Scottish Natural Heritage do. This requires an urgent addition to the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. We need to catch up with the requirement to restore beavers to their former range stated by the EU Habitats Directive and Bern Convention, backed by the RSPB and other NGOs.
And, we must incentivise people to make space for our greatest wild ally. Replacing CAP, the new Environmental Land Management tests and trials being undertaken with Defra will change the agricultural policies that have driven productivity rather than agro-ecological stewardship. Let’s make sure this includes setting-aside land along rivers and streams, allowing a healthy berth for riparian habitats, and rewarding those farmers that may lose productive land for the ecosystem services they generate – public money for public goods.
By collaborating with and informing landowners of the many benefits of having beavers back in our waterways, and helping them to co-exist with these master engineers, we can restore resilience to our landscape.
The Beaver Trust is working with conservation groups, land managers, utilities and government to agree and then implement a national strategy for working with beavers to restore natural processes and wildlife in all our waterways. A truly natural catchment-based approach.
In these increasingly unstable times of climate breakdown and mass extinction, with record temperatures, costly floods and persistent pollution, we humans are struggling to handle the pressure. Beavers will work tirelessly to help us, and for free.
All we have to do is give them permission.
#beavers #beaverbelievers #beavolution
© James Wallace 2019