Scottish government announces new measures to 'support expansion of the beaver population’

Flooding, Management & Regulation, Natural Environment

Scotland’s government have today (November 24th) announced a series of measures that will help to increase beaver numbers and biodiversity in the country.

The announcement delivers a commitment made in the cooperation agreement with the Scottish Green Party, and will see translocation, where the beavers are safely trapped and moved to a more suitable area, actively promoted.

While acknowledging that beavers “can produce negative impacts on some species, on agricultural land, forestry and on infrastructure” in certain environments, Scotland government’s biodiversity minister Lorna Slater welcomed the news as a boon for both biodiversity and flood mitigation.

She said: “Restoring this lost species is important in its own right, but beavers will also contribute to restoring Scotland’s natural environment as they create wetland habitats that support a range of species, and their dams can also help filter sediment from watercourses and mitigate flooding.”

NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska also hailed the announcement as “a significant step to restore Scotland’s biodiversity and respond to the climate emergency”.

Continuing she added: “Up to now, our ability to move, or translocate, beavers to different areas across 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 wider scope.”

Steve Micklewright, the chief executive of Trees for Life – a charity working to rewild the Scottish Highlands – revealed that the decision comes 16 months to the day since the charity launched its campaign for Scotland’s beavers, which saw a successful court case and senior judge ruling that “NatureScot’s beaver-killing licences have been unlawfully issued". It also showed that 66 per cent of Scots questioned backed relocation, not killing, of beavers.

A survey released earlier this year by NatureScot revealed that Scotland’s beaver population has almost doubled over the last three years, with the total count for this semi-aquatic rodent in the country hitting around 1,000 and territory numbers also more than doubling to 251.

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