November 2021 update: Defra consultation closes 17 November. Our response to the consultation is here.
Beavers can have a profound impact on rivers and the life in and around them, including our beloved trout. Their reintroduction to the UK is provoking a polarisation of views which we feel is unhelpful and is often based on a rather superficial understanding of the science and the experience of beaver introductions elsewhere in Europe. Beavers live in rivers, and yet their impact on fish is rarely mentioned, and then usually in relation to dams and upstream migration of (mainly) salmon, with little mention of the essential downstream migration of juveniles and smolts heading out to sea.
Beavers don’t always build dams as they prefer to live in slow moving rivers or lakes where they tend to build burrows, not dams. Many of the frequently quoted benefits of beavers are linked to their dam building (creating wetlands, reducing floods, improving water quality) and issues with fish migration are linked to dams.
The pages on this website are an attempt to bring some balance and a somewhat deeper understanding of beavers and their impacts. The pages also contain many links to reports, articles and other websites for more information.
Click the links below to be taken to the relevant section on the beaver pages. The page will open in a new tab.
In addition to the links on the pages above, the following is a selected list of further information
The report of the Scottish Beaver Salmonid Working Group is comprehensive and a very good source of information on beaver / fish ecology.
The Eurasian Beaver Handbook: Ecology and Management of Castor fiber , published in 2016, contains a comprehensive overview of management issues by one of Europe’s leading experts, Róisín Campbell-Parker.
A bibliography including abstracts from peer reviewed articles is available on the Beaver Advisory Committee for England website.
The Beaver Trust is a charity established in 2019 and their vision is ‘to recover Britain’s waterways and landscapes through the normalisation of beavers and the rapid and widespread re-establishment of beaver wetlands across whole river catchments.’