20/12/2019 in RZSS
The Scottish Beavers project is the proud winner of a Nature of Scotland award! A timely celebration for the ten-year anniversary of this work, which is led via a partnership between RZSS and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT). Earlier this month, our RZSS Conservation Programme Manager, Dr Helen Taylor, accepted the award for RSPB Species Champion with Gill Dowse, Knowledge and Evidence Manager at SWT, and Allan Bantick OBE, one of the original proponents of the Scottish Beaver Trial, on behalf of everyone who has worked on the Scottish Beavers project over the past decade.
The Scottish Beavers project started back in 2009 as the Scottish Beaver Trial, one of the largest field trials of its kind. Using Knapdale Forest in mid-Argyll as a trial site, the team worked with support from Forestry and Land Scotland, and Scottish Natural Heritage to reintroduce Eurasian beavers into a landscape they’d been absent from for over 400 years. After years of work collecting data and closely monitoring released individuals, we were able to present the findings of the Trial to the Scottish Government, who made the decision in 2016 to recognise the Eurasian beaver as a native species. This was followed in May this year by the news that the Scottish Government was granting beavers legal status as a European Protected Species. Over the past two years, the project has primarily focussed on reinforcing the population released during the Trial with beavers from the Tayside population, which have different genetic stock. Exciting news gathered from the survey period this autumn confirmed that beavers relocated from Tayside are successfully breeding in Knapdale and several kits have been born. This is fantastic news for Scotland’s hopes for a wilder future, as beavers are ecosystem engineers, positively impacting the environmental resilience of waterways, wetlands and woodlands, and boosting biodiversity by creating habitats for numerous other species.
We’re very proud to be part of the first ever successful reintroduction of a mammal to the UK, a milestone achievement that was only possible thanks to a wider collaborative effort and the hard work of many different people. This award is testament to the support from our visitors, members, and donors, and the hard work of teams from RZSS, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, with support from Forestry and Land Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Heart of Argyll Wildlife Trust, Biffa Award, and players of the People’s Postcode Lottery over the past decade. Here’s to all of them, and here’s to a positive future for beavers in Scotland!