Beaver foraging


Beavers eat a very wide range of vegetation, therefore their impacts vary greatly according to species, food availability and distance from a watercourse.

Trees in the immediate riparian zone may need protection if they are favourite specimen or sentimental trees, crop trees or potentially those that may cause damage if felled. If trees need protection this can be undertaken individually or as stands, such as fruit tree orchards.

Different methods
of tree protection

Tree wrapping

  • Wrap the tree with wire-mesh at least 0.9m high leaving 15cm space between the mesh and the trunk for the tree to grow.
  • Pin the mesh wrap into the ground.
  • Test the wrap to make sure it’s secure.
  • Mesh size < 5cm x 5cm


Download and follow this simple guide to protect a tree from beaver browsing.


Stand Protection

  • It may be more cost-effective to fence beavers out of a stand of trees. 
  • Fencing should be ~1.20m in height and include a 90cm mesh skirt, facing the water, to prevent beavers from gaining access through digging under fence. 
  • Mesh size <10cm x 10cm will prevent kits from entering.

Tree painting

additional tips & considerations

  • Any protection should extend higher than beaver standing on its back legs (0.9m)

  • Buttress roots should also be protected 

  • Flexible wire such as ‘chicken mesh’ should be avoided as it is not robust enough.

  • Remove any moss/lichens and let trunk dry before painting, unless you are in a protected site where the moss and lichens are features of interest. In that instance employ other measures.

  • Painting is more difficult on rough barked trees

  • An alternative/complementary method of protection should involvethe establishment of an unfenced, sacrificial riparian buffer strip of native willow situated between the water’s edge and woodland creation. Some dominant species from the main woodland creation should also be planted in this strip to divert potential impacts.

  • Fast-growing, regenerative, flood-tolerant species should be planted within the riparian zone, but at least 10 m from the water’s edge, at a higher stocking density. These can include a mix of willow, aspen, birch, rowan and smaller proportions of alder.

  • Monitoring of beaver impacts should be incorporated into existing inspections for other herbivore impacts (deer, squirrel, hare etc). Beaver-deer interactions should also be monitored.

  • Fencing within a flood zone should be carefully considered

  • Beavers are more likely to feed on certain tree species including willows, poplars, birch, hazel and fruit trees (especially apple). They also use a broad variety of other trees including ash, alder, elm, oak, beech, maple and sycamore and in gardens have occasionally been reported to cut wisteria, laurel, leylandii and rhododendron.

  • Beavers are likely to feed on the next available unprotected trees. Before you start protection think strategically about which trees you want to protect, whether the species is likely to be impacted by beavers, and which you might be prepared to allow beavers to feed on.

Licensing in Each Country:

Beavers have been a European Protected Species in England since 1st October 2022.

Protecting trees and vegetation from beaverbrowsing does not require a licence under the current management framework but may require other permits or consents from other bodies.
If you own or manage land that is affected by beaver browsing, go to:  ‘Beavers: how to manage them and when you need a licence’ – GOV.UK for more information.

As of 1st May 2019 beavers are a recognised as a European Protected Species in Scotland. Protecting tress and vegetation from beaver browsing does not require a licence under the current management framework.

If you own or manage land that is affected by beaver browsing contact NatureScot by email on or by phone on 01463 725 000.

Beavers are not currently a protected species in Wales.

If you own or manage land that is affected by beaver browsing contact the Welsh Beaver Project for support on 

Our team is here to help

Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer

Head of Restoration

Dr Robert Needham

Restoration Manager

Sheelagh McAllister

Field Officer

Alana Skilbeck

Restoration Project Officer

Our restoration team have worked on beaver reintroduction projects across Britain and Europe and are highly experienced in beaver management and conflict resolution. If you own of manage land that is affected by beavers email them at for FREE advice.

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