The Welsh Beaver Project

Beavers in Water by Chris Robbins

Beavers in Water by Chris Robbins

Since 2005 The Welsh Beaver Project led by The Wildlife Trusts in Wales has been investigating the feasibility of reintroducing wild beavers back into Wales.

How You Can Help

The Welsh Beaver Project is currently fundraising to ensure the return of beavers to the Welsh landscape. You can help reintroduce beavers back into Wales by supporting the project via our donation page or by purchasing yourself an #ILoveWelshBeaver mug. These are being sold at Parc Slip Nature Reserve's cafeThe Welsh Wildlife Centre's gift shop and via North Wales' online shop.

 

About The Eurasian Beaver

The Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) is native to Wales with a distribution that extends from Britain across Europe and into China and Mongolia. Beavers are large, semi-aquatic rodents and adults weigh on average around 25kg. Beavers are often active at dawn and dusk where they spend a majority of their time in or near water. They rarely venture further than 20 metres away from water with 98% of their activity occurring with 20 metres of the water’s edge.

Beavers were once found throughout Wales, but in medieval times they were highly prized for their meat, fur and scent organs. Their soft fur was valued for hats, the meat and tail for food. As beavers are aquatic they were considered to be a fish and could therefore be eaten on a Friday! Beavers were also used for medicinal purposes due to the castoreum oil that they produce for scent making. This oil contains a component similar to acetylsalicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. Unfortunately, this hunting was unsustainable and during the Middle Ages beavers became extinct in Wales.

The Benefits of Beavers

Beavers are often referred to as ‘keystone species’ or ‘ecosystem engineers’ because they manage their habitat and can provide ecosystem services. Beavers are herbivores, they consume herbaceous plants and the bark from deciduous trees. They also coppice trees to construct lodges (for resting and/or breeding) and dams. Beavers only build dams if they have too and even then, they will only dam small streams to ensure that the entrance of their lodge is underwater or to reach a food resource. Research has also shown that beaver dams can reduce the risk of flooding, increase water storage and improve water quality through filtering pollutants and trapping sediments. These impacts can benefit both wildlife and humans. Beavers can also provide economic opportunities to local businesses through ecotourism.

The Welsh Beaver Project

The recent decision by the Scottish Government to formally recognise the Eurasian beaver as a native species has been welcomed by The Wildlife Trusts in Wales. This is the first formal mammal reintroduction in UK history and it will have positive implications for reintroducing beavers to Wales.

The Welsh Beaver Project has been working with a range of different organisations and it has been investigating the suitability of potential release sites across Wales.

Alicia Leow-Dyke, The Welsh Beaver Project Officer says, "The Welsh Beaver Project is now working with a partner organisation and A licence application is now with Natural Resources Wales who are currently assessing it. We’re hoping to carry out a reintroduction as soon as possible and need funding in order to do this. There is more work to do, including preparing sites, training volunteers, developing opportunities for education and recreation, as well as sourcing, checking and releasing beavers; the list goes on. We now need a final push to get our beavers back home - that’s where the mugs come in."

 

Article by Alicia Leow-Dyke; The Welsh Beaver Project Officer.

This project is supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery