Forestry England has brought a pair of Eurasian beavers from Scotland to Cropton Forest in Yorkshire for a revolutionary trial in natural flood management.
Spanning five years the trial will assess will the impact of the beavers’ activity on the long-term sustainability and maintenance of the “slowing the flow” artificial wooden dams. The dams have been helping to protect areas including nearby Pickering from flooding. This will be the first time in the United Kingdom that the effects beaver have on artificial dams has ever been studied.
The pioneering project between Forestry England, Forest Research, Exeter University, and beaver experts Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer and Derek Gow is building on the “Slowing the Flow” project, north of Pickering. Slowing the flow has been hailed as a big success and a potential model for other flood prone areas across the country. Forestry England expect that the beavers’ activity in Cropton Forest will improve biodiversity in their new 10-hectare home. It may have the potential to reduce the impact of flooding locally. Monitoring will continue on site throughout the five-year project to assess these ecosystem benefits.
Over 40 volunteers have been involved in the project so far doing baseline wildlife surveys, including birds, butterflies, bats, small mammals, otters, fungi, aquatic and terrestrial plants, fish, spiders and reptiles. The surveys will be repeated every year after release.
Forestry England unveiled plans for a trial reintroduction into Cropton Forest in October 2018. Since then, Natural England granted Forestry England a licence to release beavers into the carefully chosen and secure site.
Academics from Leeds University are also involved. Their research includes high tech laser scanning of the site in various locations so assessments can be made of the topographical changes throughout the trial.