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Beavers are back: here’s what this might mean for the UK’s wild spaces

1 5 8
09.09.2021

The Eurasian beaver, once a common sight across Europe, had disappeared almost entirely by the end of the 16th century thanks to hunting and river modification for agriculture and engineering.

But beavers are making a comeback across the UK and several other countries. They have already been released into the wild in Scotland and within enclosed river sections in England. Now expanding the wild release of beavers across England is on the cards.

Ecosystem recovery, increased biodiversity, flood protection and improved water quality are some of the upsides of having beavers around. But reintroducing wild animals to the landscape is always going to involve trial and error, and it’s vital to understand the possible consequences – both good and bad.

The beaver is a gifted environmental engineer, able to create its own ecological niche – matching itself perfectly to its environment – by building dams. These dams are made from materials the beaver can carry or float – typically wood, stones and mud, but also fence posts, crops from nearby fields, satellite dishes and old kids’ toys.

The dam creates a peaceful, watery home for beaver families to sleep, eat and avoid predators. And the effects of dam building ripple outwards, with the potential to transform entire ecosystems.

Our review of beaver impacts considers evidence from across Europe and North America, where wild beaver populations have been expanding since around the........

© The Conversation


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