Back in February, we wrote about a group of beavers that escaped captivity back in 2013 and were found years later living along a river in Devon, England. Those beavers were originally set to be exterminated, but thanks to the popular outcry, the government agreed to a scientific trial to measure the environmental impact of the beavers.
The five-year study recently concluded and showed that the beavers have alleviated flooding, reduced pollution, and boosted populations of fish, amphibians, and other wildlife. With this information, the UK government decided this week that the first beavers to live wild in England for centuries will be allowed to remain in their new home on the River Otter in east Devon.
Beavers alter the landscape and ecosystems in and around waterways, with their dam-building helping to reduce pollution and boosting local wildlife populations, including fish and amphibians, according to a study from Exeter University.
As the UK’s climate changes under global heating, droughts and devastating floods are likely to become more common, and beavers can help with both: their damming slows the speed of floods downhill when there is too much rainfall, and helps provide water storage that stops rivers running dry during droughts. The dams also filter out pollutants and stop topsoil from being washed away.
For environmentalists, the hope is that the beaver reintroduction trial will inspire the government to allow more natural solutions that can be implemented to protect the country from climate change and the flooding that comes with it.