Protecting Scotland’s beaver population – gov.scot

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New measures to increase the workforce and restore biodiversity.

The Scottish Government will actively support the expansion of the beaver population, promoting translocation, which involves trapping and moving beavers safely to a more suitable area. This will reduce or avoid negative impacts and help establish the beaver presence in areas of Scotland outside of their current range, beyond where natural expansion is expected to reach in the short term.

The announcement reflects a commitment made in the cooperation agreement with the Scottish Green Party.

Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater visited the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Visitor Center and Wildlife Reserve near Dunkeld, which has been home to beavers since 2012. Ms Slater said:

“Beavers were driven to extinction in Scotland, but have now become an integral part of our environment in some areas after their reintroduction, and today’s announcement will help them continue to thrive across the country . Restoring this lost species is important in itself, but beavers will also help restore Scotland’s natural environment by creating wetland habitats that are home to a range of species, and their dams can also help filter the sediment streams and mitigate flooding.

“The Scottish Government recognizes that by altering the environment, beavers can, in some places, have negative impacts on certain species, on agricultural land, forests and on infrastructure. Since they became a protected species in 2019, we have gained sufficient experience in managing beavers in Scotland to allow us to confidently support proactive measures to expand their population. We will continue to provide support and guidance to land managers to mitigate any negative impacts, and the additional option of trapping and transfer will further enhance this support package. “

Francesca Osowska, CEO of NatureScot, said:

“This is an important step in restoring Scotland’s biodiversity and responding to the climate emergency. So far our ability to move or relocate beavers in different parts of Scotland has been limited to moving animals within their current range where populations are already established. Being able to move beavers out of their current range gives us a much broader reach.

“The change is supported by our evidence gathered over 26 years of suitable habitat for beavers across the country, as well as how beavers form ponds and wetlands where other species thrive, slow water flows. water and improve water quality. This, along with the results of our survey earlier this year showing a healthy and growing beaver population in Scotland, is really positive news. We are committed to continuing to work with stakeholders to restore and manage beavers for the benefit of our environment.

Scottish Wildlife Trust Director of Conservation Sarah Robinson said:

“Beavers have a vital role to play in tackling the growing crisis facing nature. Achieving a thriving national beaver population spread across Scotland’s lochs and rivers will unlock a wide range of benefits, including enhancing biodiversity and creating new opportunities for wildlife tourism.

“We warmly welcome the Scottish Government’s support to expand the current range of the species into new areas of Scotland. There are over 100,000 hectares of suitable forest habitat across the country. Much of this habitat is found in areas where there is a low risk of conflict with agriculture and other land uses.

“Moving beavers requires specialized skills and resources. Therefore, providing funds and increasing the number of people trained to perform translocations effectively is an important step forward.

“To fully benefit from the return of the beavers to Scotland, we need a common reflection. We look forward to working with groups from diverse backgrounds to help shape a strong, forward-looking national strategy for the species. It is essential that this strategy is consistent with the new Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and that land managers are appropriately rewarded for beaver habitat management under the new land management grant scheme.

Background

Recent figures from NatureScot estimate that the most recent beaver range in Scotland was 602 to 1381, with a rough median estimate of 954 beavers in 254 beaver territories, mostly in the Forth and Tay watersheds.

Together with NatureScot and other partners, the Scottish Government will research future beaver translocation sites to include new areas of Scotland, to help increase beaver numbers. This expansion builds on the 50 beavers that NatureScot has already moved to England and Wales and the Knapdale reintroduction site from prime farmland in Scotland. A course will also be developed to help recruit and train more trappers in time for the new trapping season in August 2022. NatureScot will lead the development of a National Beaver Strategy to lead this work, as part of a wider program to restore and enhance biodiversity across Scotland. .

As we move forward with this policy and begin to identify new transfer sites, consultations will be conducted with local communities likely to be affected to identify and mitigate possible areas of conflict. NatureScot is currently in the process of drafting guidelines that will be used to show future consultants how they will handle custody transfer requests, how their views can be presented and what would be expected from a competent and fair consultation exercise.

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