Norwegian beaver returns to Britain after 400 years

A A A

A rare Norwegian beaver is to be reintroduced to Britain for the first time in 400 years, in an attempt to revive the ecology of ancient wetland.

A rare Norwegian beaver is to be reintroduced to Britain for the first time in 400 years in an attempt to revive the ecology of ancient wetland.

Ten European beavers (Castor fiber) were flown in yesterday and after a period of quarantine will be introduced to east Kent as a "management tool" to improve the habitat. The Kent Wildlife Trust hopes the aquatic rodents donated by the Norwegian government will be able to emulate their success in projects elsewhere in Europe, by boosting water levels and vegetation.

The trust aims to confine them to a secret east Kent location by building a special beaver-proof fence around the reserve for the project's five-year trial period. They are also expected to be fitted with radio transmitters so managers can keep track of their movements.

Dan Attwood, a spokesman, said: "We regard this as a bold project designed to protect and restore a very special wetland habitat. During field trips to Norway and elsewhere in Europe, we have seen how beavers benefit their habitat in terms of influencing water levels and the vegetation. We believe they can do an excellent job for us, and minimise disturbance through reducing the need for human access."

He explained that to protect wildlife it was necessary to restore natural ecological systems. "This will need the use of 'keystone' species, such as beaver, to manage the natural processes that maintain our ancient ecological systems."

However, the organisation stresses that this is not a reintroduction project, unlike the proposed Scottish Natural Heritage scheme ­ which has yet to be approved ­ to release beavers into the wild in an area of Argyllshire.

Theresa Bennett of English Nature said: "We have given our support for the project because it is important the area is returned to fen-type habitat and it is felt the beavers will help to achieve this efficiently." She added that beavers were not liable to "wander off", but the special fence would confine them to the site.

The Environment Agency and local landowners had been consulted before approval was given. The trust is aware of concerns in some quarters and has stressed that beavers will help to save other British wildlife such as otters, water voles, dragonflies and marshland plants.

A spokesman said the beavers would not multiply out of control because they had a slow reproductive rate and self-regulated their populations. The trust added that there would be no danger to fish stocks as the beavers ate only plants and they would not change rivers because European beavers rarely built dams, unlike their North American cousins. Neither did they pose any threat to people or agriculture.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: Field Marketing Manage

£25k - 40k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Opilio Recruitment: Product Development Manager

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas