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In the last quarter of 2017, three beavers of Bavarian origin were released at Knapdale Forest. This is the initial step in the three-year plan of the Scottish Beavers, partnership between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT). The organisation plans to set free an estimated 28 more beavers around the lochans of Knapdale Forest.
Extinct from the UK for over 400 years, beavers were reintroduced to the country in 2009 through the Scottish Beaver Trial. Knapdale Forest is one of the sites of the reintroduction. From 2009 to 2014, 16 Eurasian beavers were released into the forest.
So far, the effort has been successful with their population increasing and their reach expanding. In fact, the return of beavers in UK is a noteworthy milestone for the government and conservationists, since it is the country’s first successful wild animal reintroduction project. Furthermore, the success of the Scottish Beaver Trial prompted Scottish ministers to give this semi-aquatic rodent the ‘native’ status.
Continuing the work of the Scottish Beaver Trial, the Scottish Beavers says that one of the goals of the current project is to have at least five breeding pairs. Moreover, it is meant to enhance the genetic diversity of the beaver population at Knapdale Forest. Lastly, conservationists are hoping that, through this project, the beaver colony in the area continues to thrive.
The return of the beavers in the UK has far-reaching impact on the country’s ecosystem. For one, they aid in doubling plant species in drained land. They also help in improving water quality in ponds. Furthermore, these so-called ‘ecosystem engineers’ prevent or regulate flooding and create new wetlands. Their presence benefits other species like insects, otters and birds. Lastly, the return of beavers in the country gives local wildlife tourism in the UK a boost.
People are flocking places where beavers are, like Knapdale Forest and River Otter, just to get a glimpse of these well-loved creatures. At Knapdale Forest, there is a Beaver Detective Trail where visitors can look for traces of and/or spot beavers.
Given the benefits they bring and their ‘native’ status, more projects preventing the decline of beaver population in the UK can be expected in the future.