Highlands & Islands

Beaver reintroduction backed by National Trust for Scotland

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

Beavers should be resident in Scotland, according to the National Trust for Scotland.

The heritage body said it supported the general licensed reintroduction of the animals.

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.

The Trust has published a policy statement setting out its position on the issue.

The charity said that the reintroduction of the Eurasian Beaver to Scotland would see a key element of native fauna restored to its natural ecosystem and support the conservation of existing beaver populations in Scotland.

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

Nature adviser Lindsay Mackinlay said: "Beavers are a native species to Scotland and having carefully weighed up the pros and cons, the Trust believes that they should be resident here.

"We would like to see the existing beavers in Argyll and Tayside managed to permit their natural expansion from these core areas and hope that other licensed reintroductions in appropriate areas will augment the existing populations."

Scotland is one of the few countries in Europe which does not have a wild beaver population and many nations, including the Netherlands, have reintroduced them in recent years.

Mr Mackinlay added: "The beaver is a crucial element in our countryside which plays an important role in the conservation of other wildlife. Conservationists call it a keystone species because its presence has such a major impact on the natural environment and its wildlife. Scotland is currently much the poorer without it.

"Let's not pretend that beavers are always good neighbours. Sometimes, they are not. Their dam building activities and burrows can cause problems.

"That's why we're asking for a national mitigation plan that addresses the legitimate concerns of landowners, salmon fishery managers and other interest groups."

Moray-based conservation charity Trees for Life recently indicated their support for the return of the beaver.

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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