Fresh support for beaver reintroduction in Scotland

Ministers want the species to expand naturally following a trial. Picture: Getty
Ministers want the species to expand naturally following a trial. Picture: Getty
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A government consultation has indicated the majority of people support the reintroduction of beavers in Scotland.

Scottish ministers want the species to be allowed to expand naturally following an official trial in Argyll and a study of the beaver population in Tayside.

Beavers were absent from the wild in Scotland for more than 400 years.

The Scottish Government plans to give the species legal protection, and has set out proposals for how the animals will be managed to minimise any adverse impact on farmers and other land owners.

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Its consultation received over 500 responses, with 83% agreeing with the policy of reintroduction and the measures to mitigate against potential issues such as flooding through damage to field drainage systems, and damage to infrastructure and crops.

Some concerns were raised about long-term funding to support effective mitigation.

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Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “The reintroduction of the beaver to Scotland, after the species was hunted to extinction centuries ago, is testament to the Scottish Government’s commitment to Scotland’s biodiversity, and it’s very encouraging to see the vast majority of respondents to the consultation agree with that decision.

“However, we are very aware that the reintroduction has potential impacts, in particular in areas of prime agricultural land, which some groups are understandably concerned about.

“This is why we have been at pains to work collaboratively with stakeholders wherever possible to discuss those concerns, evaluate potential impacts, and come up with practical and proportionate solutions or mitigation measures where possible.

“We asked stakeholders whether they agreed that the Strategic Environment Assessment achieved those aims, and it’s heartening that they appear to agree that it does.

“We continue to move forward with our intentions to introduce legislation to give beavers protected species status.”