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Beaver: Human Dimensions

Beaver: Human Dimensions

Beaver: Human Dimensions

Understanding the human dimensions of Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) reintroduction in England

This research aims to explore the social and socioeconomic aspects of Eurasian beaver reintroduction in England and looks at the role of social science in wildlife reintroduction. The research explores both perceptions and the potential implications of beaver reintroduction in areas of opportunity as well as potential conflicts.

The core aims of the work are to understand perceptions of beaver reintroduction in England and to explore potential conflicts and opportunities that may arise. This then hopes to build an understanding of the role of social science in wildlife reintroduction projects.

This research is being conducted across three sites: the ‘River Otter Beaver Trial’ (where there is a free-living beaver population in East Devon), the ‘Cornwall Beaver Project’ (a fenced enclosure in a rural setting) and a project at Poole Farm (a fenced project in the heart of the urban landscape of Plymouth).

The research employs a mixed-methods approach to understanding the potential challenges and opportunities arising from beaver reintroduction. In the first instance this looked at public opinion using a nationwide online attitudinal survey (n=2759). This has since been followed by a series of focused studies, including:

  • Interview research with individuals who reported conflicts between beavers and agriculture or land/property.
  • Research into the perspectives of the angling community in the River Otter catchment, using a technique called Q-Methodology.
  • A case study investigation of beaver tourism arising from reintroduction.
  • Ongoing research is investigating perspectives that exist among communities living downstream of beaver sites, with focus on the potential role of beavers in natural flood management.

Results of this work have also contributed to the River Otter Beaver Trial: Science and Evidence Report, which is being considered by UK government in decisions upon the future of the Eurasian beaver in England.

Team members

  • Prof Richard Brazier
  • Prof Stewart Barr
  • Roger Auster


This research is funded by the University of Exeter, Devon Wildlife Trust, Plymouth City Council and Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

The initial nationwide perception survey was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

Project partners

This research is being conducted in partnership with the River Otter Beaver Trial, Cornwall Beaver Project and Plymouth City Council.

Additionally the project reports to the South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP).


Further reading