The first beaver lodge to be constructed in the wild for over 400 years has now been built in Scotland, it has been revealed by the Scottish Beaver Trial (SBT) today (4 November 2009).
The Scottish Beaver Trial (SBT) is a partnership project run by Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS). Three beaver families were released into Knapdale Forest, Mid-Argyll, in May, marking the first-ever formal reintroduction of a native mammal in the UK.
SBT Project Manager Simon Jones, who discovered the lodge, said: “We are thrilled to see that one of our beaver families has now constructed their own lodge. This is a fantastic sign that these beavers have settled into the area. They are following their instincts and acting as beavers naturally do. Until now our beaver families have been using burrows along the sides of their release lochs.
“Our first lodge is an impressive structure, measuring 5 metres long by 2 metres high by 7 metres wide (5x2x7m) in size. Beavers build lodges to shelter in during the day. This provides them with warmth and protection. The lodges usually consist of two chambers, accessed from the loch by an underwater passage. The first chamber is where the beavers spend a few minutes drying off before moving into the large chamber, which is extremely dry and cosy.”
A spokesperson for Forestry Commission Scotland, the host partner of the Scottish Beaver Trial, said: “The lodge fits in really well with its surroundings and has been built in a secluded part of the forest.
“There are no designated trails or paths to the site so we would ask people to not try to visit the lodge as any attempts to do so would only disturb the beavers and other wildlife and habitats in the area.“
Visit www.scottishbeavers.org.uk to find out more about the Scottish Beaver Trial or to plan your trip to Knapdale. Visitors are advised to visit in the early morning or early evening to get a better chance of seeing beaver or signs of beaver activity
Trial staff and volunteers have been closely tracking the beavers’ activities and gathering data to help independent Trial monitors, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), measure the impact of the beavers on their surrounding environment, which is one of the Trial’s main objectives.
The release is for a time-limited trial period and comes after years of lobbying by ecologists and conservation experts who believe that the beaver has been a missing part of our wetland ecosystems since being hunted to extinction in the 16th Century. The Trial is mostly funded thanks to private donations and grants, including up to £1 million from Biffaward and support from People’s Postcode Lottery and People’s Trust for Endangered Species.
- The Scottish Beaver Trial is a partnership project between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and host Forestry Commission Scotland to undertake a time-limited trial reintroduction of the European beavers to Knapdale, Mid-Argyll. It is part of Scotland’s Species Action Framework, which sets out a strategic approach to species management in Scotland. The Scottish Government has asked Scottish Natural Heritage to coordinate the independent scientific monitoring of the trial, reporting on whether the conditions of the licence are being fully addressed on the ground. For more information on the project visit www.scottishbeavers.org.uk. For more information on the scientific monitoring visit www.snh.org.uk/scottishbeavertrial.
- The Scottish Government approved the application of the trial reintroduction in May 2008. This followed a two-month long consultation period with local residents and key stakeholders. The results of this consultation showed that 73% of respondents were in favour of the trial reintroduction.
- Forestry Commission Scotland manages the trial site of Knapdale Forest as part of the national forest estate. Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate and is responsible for the protection and expansion of Scotland’s forests and woodlands. FCS manages the national forest estate for a range of public benefits – economic, social and environmental. It works closely with a range of national and local stakeholders and partners to deliver the Scottish Government’s goals vested in the Scottish Forestry Strategy.
- Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park are owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), a registered charity, number SC004064. RZSS was founded by visionary lawyer Thomas Gillespie. The Society was set up ‘to promote, facilitate and encourage the study of zoology and kindred subjects and to foster and develop amongst the people an interest in and knowledge of animal life’. RZSS has been involved in several successful species reintroduction programmes in the past. These include native species, such as the Canna mouse, as well as global initiatives including reintroducing the Socorro dove back to the Socorro Islands, off the Mexican coast.
- The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) is a registered charity. It is the largest voluntary body working for all the wildlife of Scotland, representing more than 33,000 members who care for wildlife and the environment. SWT seeks to raise public awareness of threatened habitats and species and manages over 120 wildlife reserves Scotland-wide. www.swt.org.uk
- Scottish Natural Heritageadvises the Scottish Government on conserving, enjoying, understanding and sustainably using our natural heritage.
- Funding for the Scottish Beaver Trial has been gratefully received from Biffaward.
- In 1997 Biffa Waste Services agreed to donate landfill tax credits to the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT) to administer under the fund name Biffaward. Grants made from the fund currently amount to £100 million, supporting many worthwhile projects. Biffa Waste Services Limited is one of the largest single suppliers of waste management services in the UK. It collects, treats, recovers and disposes of municipal, commercial and industrial waste nationwide. It is ultimately owned by a private equity consortium comprising Montagu Private Equity, Global Infrastructure Partners, Uberior Co-Investments Limited and other co-investors www.biffaward.org
- The project has also received financial support from a range of sources including the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, People’s Postcode Lottery, the John Ellerman Foundation and the Albert George & Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust.