I’ll be damned! Beavers are reintroduced to LONDON – and you can start seeing them on ‘beaver safaris’
- Beavers will return to a built-up area of the London Borough of Ealing
- The rodents are brought from Tayside, Scotland, in the autumn
Beavers return to an urban part of London for the first time in 400 years.
The rodents were once hunted to near extinction in the UK.
But now they must return to a built-up area of the London Borough of Ealing in a project led by the local community and conservation groups to demonstrate their benefits to people and nature.
Beavers have been reintroduced to the UK since 2008 to restore the natural environment.
Paradise Fields, an area of 10 hectares of woodland and wetlands in urban Greenford in north Ealing, has undergone feasibility studies and has submitted a license application to Natural England, supported by Beaver Trust.
The site will be open to the public for ‘safaris’ after the beavers are brought in from Tayside, Scotland, expected this autumn.
Beavers will return to a built-up area of the London Borough of Ealing in a project led by the local community and conservation groups to demonstrate their benefits to people and wildlife
Paradise Fields, a 10-acre area of woodland and wetlands in urban Greenford in the north of the borough, has undergone feasibility studies and a license application to Natural England supported by Beaver Trust
The project is a collaboration between Ealing Wildlife Group, Citizen Zoo, Friends of Horsenden Hill and Ealing Council with support from Beaver Trust.
Dr. Sean McCormack, vet and chairman of the Ealing Wildlife Group says: ‘Many people think beavers are a wilderness species, in fact we’ve just forgotten how close we used to live to them.
“We’re so excited to study how beavers interact with an urban river basin and, crucially, with urban communities.”
Beavers are considered ‘ecosystem engineers’ and in recent years it has been recognized that they help prevent flooding by slowing water flow during times of heavy rainfall and reducing drought by retaining more water on land.
The project hopes to prevent flooding downstream around Greenford Station and surrounding streets.
Elliot Newton, co-founder of Citizen Zoo, welcomed the approval of the beaver license, commenting: ‘We hope to challenge perceptions and show how London too can embrace these ecosystem engineers as we strive for a healthier, wilder future in which our capital can become a leader in urban rewilding.
“Which will not only benefit wildlife populations, but local communities as well.”
Beavers are considered ‘ecosystem engineers’ and in recent years it has been recognized that they help prevent flooding by slowing water flow during times of heavy rainfall and reducing drought by retaining more water on land
The introduction of beavers to Ealing is regarded as the first truly urban reintroduction
Dr. Roisín Campbell-Palmer, head of restoration at the Beaver Trust, also welcomed the license approval, stating: ‘Now that beavers are back in Britain, learning to live with them is fundamental to the successful restoration of the kind.
“We look forward to continuing to support the team to make the most of this wonderfully located location.”
Beavers were reintroduced last year at a site in Forty Hall, Enfield, on the very outskirts of London, but sadly one of the two died soon after.
Ealing is regarded as the first truly urban reintroduction.
HOW AND WHY DO BEAVERS BUILD DAMS?
Beavers are found throughout the northern hemisphere and are among the most skilled builders on the planet.
This reputation has earned them the nickname “the engineers of nature.”
They fell trees by gnawing their trunks and use the resulting sticks to build dams to stop the movement of water in ponds, lakes, rivers and streams – creating bodies of water with low currents.
The mammals then use sticks and mud to create a second structure: a large dome-shaped island that can grow up to ten feet high and 1,500 feet long.
Each island has two underwater entrances and an above-water living room where the animals sleep and shelter.
Beavers often line the walls of this chamber with dry leaves and plants to insulate it in winter.
It remains unclear exactly why beavers build dams, but scientists speculate that the creatures use it for warmth and shelter in winter and protection from predators.
Beavers are strong swimmers and by creating a reservoir of water, the animals can use their powers to escape from those higher up the food chain.
The largest beaver dam ever discovered was 850 meters long, more than twice as long as the Hoover Dam.
The forestry, found in the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park in Northern Alberta, Canada, was so vast it could be seen from space.