The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) have submitted a licence application to the Scottish Government for a trial reintroduction ofEuropean beavers in Scotland. The submission follows the publication of the results of a two month long consultation that revealed over 73% of respondents from Mid-Argyll were in favour of the trial reintroduction in Knapdale, Mid-Argyll.
Beavers have been extinct in Scotland since around the sixteenth century when they were hunted to extinction. Beavers play an important role in aquatic and wetland ecosystems, having a positive effect on both environmental and woodland habitat management, and on thewider biodiversity of the area in which they live. They can also play an important role in encouraging wildlife tourism, with positive spin-offs for local communities.
Allan Bantick, Chairman of the Project Steering Group and Trustee of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted that this licence application has now been submitted and we look forward to conducting a full scientific trial of the first formal reintroduction of a native mammal into the wild in the UK. The first beavers could be reintroduced to Mid-Argyll in spring 2009. Once we get the green light from the Scottish Government we will develop the detailed plan for the trial taking into consideration issues raised during the consultation.”
David Windmill, Chief Executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “We are very keen to see this trial go ahead. We will work with all the various stakeholders involved in the project to make it a success and to benefit from the contribution the beaver can make to improving our natural ecosystems and habitats as well as encouraging tourism. We are very pleased to have so much support for this project and anticipate a great deal of public interest in the long awaited return of the beaver to Scotland.
Approval for the trial reintroduction would see fifteen to twenty beavers from Norway, following a period of quarantine, introduced to the trial site. The ultimate aim of the trial would be to monitor the success and impact of the beaver reintroduction in order to inform considerations for further beaver introductions elsewhere in Scotland.
In January 2007, the first indication of the Scottish Government’s commitment to returning the beaver to Scotland was revealed when it, along with its conservation advisor, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), launched a strategy for species management action (Species Action Framework) which included the restoration of the European beaver to Scotland. The Scottish Beaver Trial partnership hopes that the Scottish Government will make its decision in spring 2008.
Download the Scottish Beaver Trial’s licence application.