'Drivers of change': beavers released on National Trust land to ease flooding risk

Source(s): Guardian, the (UK)
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The aim of releasing a pair of beavers on to National Trust land at the Holnicote estate in Somerset is to ease flooding and increase biodiversity. “It’s an exciting moment,” said Ben Eardley, the project manager for the National Trust at Holnicote, as the female beaver found a bramble-covered ledge to hide away in. “The beavers will shake this place up, they’re a real driver of change.”


In time, Eardley said, the beavers will thin out the trees in their 2.7-hectare home, bringing in more light and with it more flora and fauna – birds, invertebrates, other mammals. Another big hope is that the dams they build will slow the flow of water, easing the risk of flooding downstream.


Beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK 400 years ago for their fur, meat and scent glands. In recent years there has been a series of controlled reintroductions, including one by the government in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, as solutions are sought to tackle flooding. A wild colony also appears to have re-established itself spontaneously in the River Otter in Devon.


But hikers will see their work at first hand. Eardley said: “As ecosystem engineers the beavers will develop wetland habitat, increasing the variety and richness of wildlife in the local landscape. Their presence in our river catchments is a sustainable way to help make our landscape more resilient to climate change and the extremes of weather it will bring.


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