Highlands & Islands

Welcome back beavers, says Moray-based charity

Beaver Image copyright laurie campbell
Image caption Beavers have already been released in a controlled project in Argyll and illegally in Tayside

Beavers should be released at more sites in Scotland, a conservation charity has said.

Moray-based Trees for Life said the animals were a "keystone species" that played "a critical ecological role".

Scottish Natural Heritage is due to release a report on the Knapdale beaver trial in Argyll ahead of a government decision on the project's future.

More than 150 beavers, which originated from escapes or illegal releases, also live in waterways in Tayside.

Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life's executive director, said: "The beaver deserves to be welcomed back to Scotland with open arms.

"These remarkable ecosystem engineers can transform the health of our rivers and forest ecosystems, and could benefit communities through an estimated £2m tourism revenue annually."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Beavers disappeared as a native species in Scotland hundreds of years ago

He added: "Reintroducing beavers to Scotland would be the right thing to do and a historic leap forwards for rewilding - the restoration of our damaged ecosystems."

Beavers, once a native species, are thought to have been hunted to extinction in Scotland in the 16th Century.

In recent years, the Cairngorms National Park Authority has looked at the pros and cons of reintroducing beavers.

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