Beavers have been re-introduced to London for the first time in more than 400 years thanks to a pioneering project launched by Enfield Council and Capel Manor College, London’s environmental college.
The two beavers– a male and female, both two years old - have been released into a specially designed enclosure within the grounds of Forty Hall Farm in Enfield.
Enfield Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Ian Barnes, has been promoting the reintroduction of native species to Enfield as part of the Council’s drive to tackle climate change and improve ecosystems. He said: “This is a truly humbling event to see these wonderful creatures back in the borough. Enfield Council is creating wilder, more natural spaces to enable biodiversity to thrive as part of our ongoing climate action strategy. Also, by exploring natural flood management techniques, such as this beaver project, we can reduce the risk of harm from flooding following extreme rainfall, protecting hundreds if not thousands of local homes.”
Capel Manor College’s Principal, Malcolm Goodwin said: “We are delighted to be working with the leaders and water engineers in Enfield Council on this exciting, innovative and important project. We know how vital nature and biodiversity is for the health of the countryside and the wellbeing of the good people of Enfield. Our students know this too and they will have the opportunity to protect, monitor and understand the beavers and how they interact with their habitat and the local ecosystems. This is especially important as they will graduate to become custodians of the natural environment we all share.”
The project is part of a wider Natural Flood Management initiative spearheaded by the Council that will also help restore local biodiversity and river habitats.
The Eurasian beaver was hunted to extinction in Great Britain in the 16th Century, but recent studies have shown their return could bring several benefits. Beaver dams slow the flow of water through a river catchment and can reduce the impact of flooding on homes downstream. The sponge-like wetland habitats they create enable other forms of wildlife to flourish.
Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer, beaver restoration lead at Beaver Trust, commented: “We’re delighted to have returned beavers to live in such close proximity to this urban area, working with an extended veterinary team to ensure highest welfare for the animals. We’ve seen from Europe and parts of Scotland how adaptive a species beavers are given some water and enough forage. We’ll continue to work with the team to monitor their progress and all being well, we may even see offspring in 2023.”
The six-hectare area where the beavers will live has been carefully adapted to accommodate the pair prior to their anticipated dam building activities. Capel Manor College will carry out many functions as part of its education and training programme and the running of Forty Hall Farm. Enfield Council is also looking at the reintroduction of other species including goshawks and would like to support kingfisher nesting and barbel breeding.
To protect the beavers and their habitat, their enclosure will not be accessible to members of the public. A “beaver cam” will soon be installed so people can keep an eye on the semi aquatic couple, without disturbing them on site. Enfield Council will also be running a Twitter poll to name the beavers. Keep an eye out @EnfieldCouncil for the poll.
Pic credit: Natalie Greco