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Devon Beaver Project
DWT, thanks to the support of Viridor Credits Environmental Company and The Truell Charitable Foundation, has been running a captive beaver project since March 2011 to help find out more about how this long lost riparian mammal can enhance a landscape and its biodiversity.
The first phase of the Devon Beaver Project is complete and two years’ worth of valuable data has already been collected and analysed. A report on the Devon Beaver Project so far is available to download from our publications page.
Thanks to new funding from Westland Countryside Stewards, the Devon Beaver Project is continuing into its second phase. DWT has been given £44,700 to support the project for a further three years. This money will be used to monitor the ecological effects the beavers are having on their environment – from changes in the vegetation composition to effects on the populations of amphibians, bats and breeding birds. Water levels and quality will also continue to be monitored at the site and all results will be published in 2016.
Why a beaver project?Beavers are a vital missing link in the UK’s ecosystem and the wetland environment is suffering from the loss of beaver activity. In principle we support the EU’s call for governments to reintroduce lost endemic species and note that England is one of the few remaining countries not to reintroduce beavers.
However we have no specific plans to reintroduce the beaver into the wild in Devon. We would in principle like to see this come to pass but recognise that a great deal of work would need to be done before it could happen in practice.
The main aim of this project is experimentation and fact finding. It is thought that the beavers will greatly enhance the wetland value of the site and they will in effect be used as a conservation management tool for three years, much as cattle and ponies are. They will be removed from the site once the project is complete.
At the same time, DWT will be developing techniques for measuring the impact the beavers have on the hydrology, biology and water chemistry of the site.
DWT has kept the statutory authorities fully informed of its intentions and has complied with all of their stated requirements.
The siteThe site which has been chosen is a self contained 2.8 hectare plot which has been securely fenced in order to contain two beavers. This site is privately owned and located in northern Devon.
DWT has carried out baseline monitoring before introducing the beavers and we will measure changes in the biodiversity, water quality and other impacts. At the end of the project the results will be fed into the England Beaver Reintroduction Forum.
Can we visit the site?
To ensure disturbance is minimised and for safety reasons, access to the site will be by invitation only. You can see the video below which was taken on their first day on site in March 2011.
Visit the Beaver Blog
Get regular updates on the beavers progress and activties. Visit the Blog here
Looking for Devon's wild beavers?
A population of wild beavers is now living on the River Otter in east Devon. Devon Wildlife Trust's own Beaver project is not the source of these animals, but if you'd like to find out more about them go to our Devon's Wild Beavers page