Protecting Beaver’s - Nature’s Water Engineers

The University of Exeter is working on a unique research project to re-introduce beavers to the UK 400 years after they were hunted to extinction. The beaver is an important mammal for the UK in its own right, but it is also a keystone species. Known as ‘nature’s water engineers’ beavers recreate river habitats and in so doing provide significant environmental benefits.

Beavers need deep stable water to feel secure and they achieve this by constructing dams and digging ‘canals’ which transforms the landscape with highly beneficial results. The initial findings from sites in Devon demonstrate that the re-introduction of beavers can reduce flood risk, improve water quality and significantly enhance biodiversity for a wide range of species. The project has also worked to engage local communities and landowners and build considerable support for the re-introduction of beavers to the area.

The benefits of the beaver re-introduction are now being trialled in other areas of the UK including Cornwall and Gloucestershire with a project in the Forest of Dean to reduce flooding. 

The aim of the research led by Professor Richard Brazier is to gather robust, scientific evidence about the environmental benefits of beavers and to make the case for the national recognition of the species as “normally resident” in the UK. Achieving this status by 2020 would provide beavers with protection under the current habitat regulations and secure their future as the first large, native mammal to be successfully reintroduced to the country.  

Support the Devon Beaver Projects

The beaver projects receive no government money, and the development of the scientific case and measurement of the environmental impacts relies on support from individuals, philanthropic organisations and businesses. We are therefore seeking funding towards the overall costs of delivering the programme, for specific projects and for extending the trial to other areas of the UK.