Scotland

Scottish Beaver Trial publishes its final report

Beaver Image copyright Steve Gardner
Image caption One of the Knapdale Forest beavers was photographed feeding

The Scottish Beaver Trial, the first formal reintroduction of a mammal ever to take place in the UK, has published its final report.

The five-year-trial, at Knapdale forest, Argyll, is a partnership led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

The first Norwegian beavers were released in Knapdale in 2009 and monitoring ended in May.

This report will help ministers decide on the future of beavers in Scotland.

Last month, Scottish Natural Heritage also published six independent scientific monitoring studies.

Researchers noted that the beavers changed the shape of woodland close to loch shores and increased the water level of one loch after building a dam on it.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Beavers were once native to Scotland

The presence of the animals at Knapdale boosted visits to the area by "beaver tourists" and volunteers to the project, according to one of the reports.

The same research suggested the benefit to local businesses was "modest".

However, the report also said that shops and firms might be able to boost earnings and job opportunities if the beavers were allowed to stay on a permanent basis.

'Ground breaking research'

Beavers were once native to Scotland but died out because of hunting and habitat loss.

A YouGov poll, commissioned for the Scottish Beaver Trial, in April suggested 60% of Scots back the reintroduction of beavers - 5% were opposed.

Scottish Beaver Trial project manager, Simon Jones, said: "If there are any further reintroductions of beavers to Scotland, our story will prove to be essential reading.

"Beavers have never been legally reintroduced to Scotland before, for that reason, this report records the various lessons learned by the Scottish Beaver Trial team during the course of the project."

Field operations manager, Roisin Campbell-Palmer, said the trial allowed for "ground breaking research" and "thorough monitoring".

She added: "We hope our findings will form a template for similar future reintroduction projects across the UK and beyond."

In 2013, the project was named 'Best Conservation Project in the UK' by BBC Countryfile magazine.

The Scottish government will make a decision on the future of beavers in Scotland next year.

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