Today (Saturday) is a historic day for beavers in England as they are now recognized as a native and protected species.
The new law, which came into force at midnight on October 1, is welcome news for this mammal which can do so much to restore wetlands across Britain.
The protected status will make it an offense to harm beavers or their habitat without a permit.
Classification as a native species means that measures previously available to “control” beavers as a non-native species will no longer apply.
The Wildlife Trusts have pioneered the reintroduction of beavers. They are now calling for more clarity and urgency from the government on plans for the widespread return of animals.
The government issued guidelines in early September outlining how beavers could be managed in the future.
However, Beaver Trust and The Wildlife Trusts fear it is not providing enough support to landowners – and that the proposals lack ambition and detail.
Charities warn that, in their current form, the plans will not allow for the widespread reintroduction of a species which scientific studies have shown can improve water quality in rivers, stabilize water flows during droughts and floods, store carbon and boost other wildlife.
Harry Barton, chief executive of the Devon Wildlife Trust, said: “A summer of record heat and drought has highlighted the urgency of making our landscapes more resilient to the ongoing climate emergency.
“Beavers have created green oases in our parched river valleys, due to their ability to store water through the construction of dams and the creation of wetlands. And we know they can reduce peak flows in times of flooding and help improve water quality.
“Recent government announcements on beaver protection and management are welcome news, but they lack clarity and urgency. We need a clear plan and timetable for these amazing animals to become part of the wildlife of rivers across England.
In 2015, the Devon Wildlife Trust conducted a successful trial on the River Otter in Devon, where England’s first wild population of beavers was reintroduced – 400 years after they went extinct due to hunting and loss of habitat. habitat.
This trial was a great success and the government subsequently agreed that the River Otter beavers could remain in the wild and spread naturally to other rivers.
Sandra King, Chief Executive of the Beaver Trust, said: “It remains urgent and vital that the Government provide clear and ambitious policy and licensing advice to support the restoration of beavers in the wild.
“Ultimately, if we are to welcome beavers back as native animals, our primary goal must be to target positive co-existence with beavers. A forward-looking and adequately resourced strategy will allow managers land and communities to do so.”
The charities have written to Ranil Jayawardena, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.