In November 2016 the Scottish Government announced that beavers would be given protected status in Scotland. This milestone moment marked the first successful reintroduction of a mammal in the UK. It was the culmination of nearly two decades of work by organisations including the Scottish Wildlife Trust through the Scottish Beaver Trial.
In May 2009 The Scottish Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland, released the first wild beavers in Scotland in over 400 years. The Scottish Beaver Trial was one of the largest field trials of its kind in Europe and aimed to help the Scottish Government make an informed decision on the future of the species in Scotland.
The beaver families are now well settled in Knapdale Forest, Mid-Argyll and following the decision to allow beavers to stay in Scotland, we are working to reinforce the population to ensure their long term future.
An independent scientific monitoring programme was carried out by SNH to assess the effect that the trial population had on the local environment and how well they settled in Scotland. This evidence contributed to a comprehensive report on Beavers in Scotland, which was published presented to the Scottish Government in 2015.
Eurasian beavers are a native species to the UK, but they were hunted to extinction in the 16th century. They are one of the world’s best natural engineers, with an incredible ability to create new wetlands, restore native woodland and improve conditions for a wide range of species including dragonflies, otters and fish.
The return of beavers can also boost wildlife tourism. The Scottish Beaver Trial attracted visitors from around the world to Knapdale, bringing social and economic benefits to the area.
Knapdale Forest is west of Lochgilphead in the Heart of Argyll. A Beaver Detective Trail leads past felled and regenerating trees, stripped branches with teeth marks and beaver canals. The beavers are most active at night so visit in the early morning and evening for the best chance to see them. We recommend that you start your visit at Barnluasgan Information Centre.
The John Ellerman Foundation, Albert George & Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust, The European Nature Trust, The J & JR Wilson Trust, The Craignish Trust and The Mackintosh Foundation.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust would not exist without the help of its members and supporters.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust is a company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland (registered number SC040247), having its registered office at