FAQ: Why reintroduce the beaver to Scotland?

The Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) became extinct in Britain in the 16th century, primarily due to hunting for its pelt, meat and the medicinal properties of a secretion ('castoreum'), which is found in special castor sacs near the anal glands. The beaver is a missing element in our native biodiversity. The beaver and is known as a 'keystone species' in forest and riparian environments. There are few species which have such significant and positive influences on ecosystem health and function.

By modifying their habitats through coppicing, feeding and in some cases damming (beavers living on lochs or large rivers have little need of dams), beavers have a positive effect on biodiversity.

The modifications to their local environment can bring enormous benefits to other species including otters, water shrews, water voles, birds, invertebrates (especially dragonflies) and breeding fish, and create more diverse habitats.

In effect, they are a natural way of creating and maintaining habitats. Their dams can hold water in periods of drought, regulate flooding and improve water quality by holding silt behind dams, and catch acidic and agricultural run-off. Beavers coppice broadleaved trees and bushes and this helps diversify surrounding habitat structures. Coppicing has been a normal process through most of history for bankside trees and the actions of beavers will make the woodland more natural. Beavers normally forage close to water with activity concentrated within 20m of the water's edge

There is also a political responsibility for their restoration: under the EU’s Habitats Directive, the government is obliged to consider reintroductions of extinct native species.

The beaver: keystone species of wet woodland and forest



Project partners

The Royal Zoological Society of ScotlandScottish Wildlife Trust
Forestry Commission Scotland

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    Beavers are back in Scotland!

    On 24 November 2016, the Scottish Government made the landmark announcement that beavers are to remain in Scotland. This is the first time that a mammal has been formally reintroduced in UK history.

    The trial population of beavers remains in Knapdale, and the Scottish Beaver partners are now focussing their efforts on re-enforcing this population to ensure its long term future.

    Boosting the Knapdale beaver population

    For updates on the beaver re-enforcement project, please visit the website of the Scottish Wildlife Trust or the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland by clicking on the adjacent logos.

    The Scottish Beaver Trial website

    Now that the Trial has ended, this website will no longer be updated. However, if you would like to browse our historical records on the website, please click the button to continue.

    Scottish Beaver Trial RZSS Scottish Wildlife Trust