Wales

Beavers' return to Welsh rivers considered

Beaver Image copyright Devon Wildlife Trust
Image caption Debate continues over the impact of beavers on the environment

Beavers could return to Welsh waters later this year centuries after they disappeared.

The River Rheidol river in Ceredigion has previously been identified as the preferred location to reintroduce them.

Natural Resources Wales has said work is continuing to assess the results of pilot projects elsewhere in the UK.

Supporters say beavers can help prevent flooding, improve water quality and boost biodiversity but farmers' leaders have voiced concern about their impact.

Tim Jones, executive director of operations for north and mid Wales at Natural Resources Wales, said: "The possibility of reintroducing beavers to Welsh rivers needs serious consideration.

"They have the potential to help us improve the quality of our natural resources including water quality, wildlife and fish populations.

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Media captionAdrian Lloyd Jones, of the Welsh Beaver Project, and NFU Cymru's Bernard Llewellyn on the pros and cons of beavers

"However, we must also look at the wider effects of reintroducing them, which would include their effects on agriculture, forestry, flood defences amongst other things.

"We are working with a number of partners to look at the evidence on beaver re-introduction and the outcomes of pilot projects elsewhere.

"Once we've done this, and are sure that this is the right thing to do, we will look at the options and the practical challenges and benefits of continuing and developing the project further."

But Bernard Llewellyn, rural affairs board chairman of the farming union NFU Cymru, said he was concerned about potential diseases being spread to people and other animals and about "good agricultural land being lost" to beavers.

Adrian Lloyd Jones, who is leading the Welsh Beaver Project - led by the six Welsh Wildlife Trusts - told BBC Wales' Sunday Supplement programme that beavers would not spread any disease and they would bring numerous benefits to the local countryside.

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