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.
Beavers in England -key dates
July 2023, the Government Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee said that ‘the government should introduce and pay for a compensation scheme for farmers and other land managers to mitigate potential negative effects on livelihoods that result from the reintroduction of some species’.
In March 2023, following reports of beavers living wild in the Somerset / Bristol Avon catchment, Natural England compiled this report.
In September 2022, Defra published guidance on beavers management and licence requirements.
In addition to the links on the pages above, the following is a selected list of further information
Beavers in Wales. In 2023, the North Wales Wildlife Trust commissioned research on attitudes to beaver introduction in Wales. Perceptions of Eurasian Beavers Living Wild in Wales: Results of an Online Public Survey
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.’