400 years ago, beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK, but are now involved in an increasing number of rewilding programmes.
Following a successful re-introduction on Exmoor last year, a jubilant National Trust project manager proclaimed news of the first dam in the area in more than 400 years.
“It might look modest, but this beaver dam is incredibly special - it’s the first to appear on Exmoor for almost half a millennium and marks a step-change in how we manage the landscape,” said NT's Ben Eardley. “As we face into the effects of climate change and more frequent extreme weather events, natural interventions like this need to be part of the solution.”
"What's amazing is that it's only been here a few weeks but has created an instant wetland.
We've already spotted kingfishers at the site, and over time, as the beavers extend their network of dams and pools, we should see increased opportunities for other wildlife, including amphibians, insects, bats and birds."
Now, beavers are to be reintroduced to five more counties in England and Wales this year. The Wildlife Trusts will release 20 of the tree-gnawing, river-damming animals in Derbyshire, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire and Montgomeryshire, having already released them in Dorset last week.
“Beavers are a fantastic keystone species that have a hugely important role to play in restoring nature to Britain,” said Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts. “Beavers help stop flooding downstream, filter out impurities and they create new homes for otters, water voles and kingfishers.”