A Beaver Project for Wales

News / 19th July 2012

After over five years of investigation a report published today by the Welsh Beaver Project, led by the six Welsh Wildlife Trusts, puts forward a strong case for the managed reintroduction of beavers to Wales.

 The publication of the report, ‘An investigation into the feasibility of reintroducing European beaver to Wales’ heralds the start of further consultation and investigation by the Welsh Beaver Project to enable the selection of a suitable release site.

 Apart from the considerable benefit they bring for biodiversity, reintroduction of beavers to Wales is considered appropriate because of the important ecosystem services beavers can perform – managing wetland habitats, and helping to clean and control water resources, as well as boosting tourism and local economies. The report finds that suitable habitat is widely available in Wales.

 Speaking about the plans, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, John Griffiths, said:  “I support the ongoing work of the Welsh Beaver Project on this issue. Research and experience from mainland Europe and elsewhere shows that the reintroduction of beavers to Wales could offer a range of prospective benefits for Wales. I welcome the intention to consult widely on this issue and on potential sites, so that views of all parties can be considered“.

 Over the next 12 months extensive further consultation will be undertaken, particularly focussed around local communities, landholders and other interested parties in locations identified as potential sites for a managed release. There will also be ongoing liaison at the national level with appropriate organisations.

 Following successful selection of an appropriate location, the planning, management and monitoring of any release will subsequently take place with the full participation of these parties.

 An emphasis will also be placed on maximising benefits arising from the reintroduction, including liaison with local landholders and business interests on opportunities for wildlife tourism. This could be particularly relevant in areas where the demand for diversifying livelihoods from traditional land use is becoming increasingly important.

 Support networks will be established to address any management issues that may arise, and close communication will be maintained with the relevant Welsh Government departments and agencies.

 Lynn Hughes, a Vice President and former Conservation Secretary of the Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association welcomes the news “The beaver is a native species and deserves to once again be part of Wales’ magnificent wildlife, after an absence of some 600 years. A managed beaver reintroduction to Wales has the potential to greatly improve our river and wetland systems for wildlife, including for fish such as Sea Trout and Atlantic Salmon. I welcome this report and wish the Welsh Beaver Project every success”.

 Welsh Beaver Project Coordinator, Adrian Lloyd Jones, said “We have looked carefully at all the aspects surrounding beavers. Almost all European countries have successfully reintroduced beavers and we conclude that their reintroduction to Wales is something we should work to progress for the benefit of wildlife and the people of Wales. Now we are hopeful that a suitable site for a managed pilot reintroduction can be selected.”