Scottish Government announces legal protection for beavers
The two lead partners in the Scottish Beaver Trial – the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) – have welcomed the recent announcement made by the Scottish Government that legislation giving Eurasian Beavers legal protection will come into force later this year.
Eurasian Beaver numbers have risen markedly across Tayside in the past six years, according to a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) survey last year. The report estimated that around 430 beavers inhabit over 100 active territories. A similar survey, conducted in 2012, estimated beaver numbers at about 150 individuals in 40 territories across the region.
Jonny Hughes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said of the decision: "We are delighted that the Scottish Government has finally given the green light to granting Eurasian Beavers European Protected Status. Legal protection, alongside a suitable management framework, is necessary to ensure we benefit fully from their return and also ensure land managers can deal with localised negative impacts.
"The return of Eurasian Beavers to Scotland's lochs and rivers offers widespread ecological benefits. Beavers are well known for their engineering prowess, creating wetland havens that provide homes for many other species including fish, insects and waterbirds, while also helping humans by reducing the risk of floods down river. They are also providing a boost to Scotland's rural economy by increasing wildlife tourism."
Barbara Smith, RZSS Chief Executive, added: "The granting of European Protected Status is a vital step in welcoming Eurasian Beavers back to Scotland as a natural part of our ecosystem. This is a milestone for the many of us who have worked together for years on the return of this species. Legal protection accompanied by a proper framework for management is critical to ensuring that beavers can be protected and live alongside people long into the future."
Find out more at www.scottishbeavers.org.uk.