A lot has happened in 2020, but one thing that might have been overlooked is the re-emergence of the beaver in England. A five-year government trial into the reintroduction of beavers into the wild ended, citing a long list of benefits, while new beaver homes have been set up in enclosures around the country. What’s so good about the beaver – and why isn’t everyone a fan?
Beavers have been dubbed the ultimate environmental engineers, capable of alleviating flooding and sparking new life into barren wildernesses.
They are perhaps most famous for their dams, and it is these that bring the ecological benefits according to the Beaver Trust, a campaign group that wants to see the rodents reintroduced “in the right places” in England.
With their rudder-shaped tails, webbed feet and goggle-like second eyelids, beavers work best in the water and they only really feel safe and secure in depths of at least 1m (3ft).
They also dig canals so they can forage for the foliage they liked to feed on, with the accumulating water creating wetlands for other species, such as frogs, dragonflies and fish to flourish in.
Their dams also slow water flow, relieving flooding problems further down stream while pooling water for droughts, according to Eva Bishop of the Beaver Trust.
“Beavers create a whole mosaic of diverse habitats and allow a flourishing bio-diversity and bio-abundance.
“They have a genuine macro-scale impact and they are a key part of our tool kit to rescue our wildlife.
“Beavers bring life.”
To many of us, beavers seem like a foreign entity, more naturally suited to the wilds of North America.
In recent years they have been reintroduced in Scotland, Wales and now increasingly in England, with up to 500 thought to be housed around the country, mostly in enclosures.