Beavers gain legal protection in England

On 01 October 2022 Eurasian Beavers (Castor fibre) living wild in England became protected under Schedule 2 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, making it an offence to deliberately capture, injure, kill, or disturb beavers, or damage and destroy their breeding sites and resting places without a licence from Natural England.

Beavers are a true keystone species capable of transforming landscapes and their reintroduction to our waterways is set to improve England’s severely degraded waterways helping to naturally slow, store, and filter flow easing flooding downstream. However, as with most species reintroductions conflicts are likely to occur especially where beavers move close to agriculture and inhabited areas. Most of the beavers impact occurs within twenty meters of the water’s edge and simple measures such as the creation of vegetated buffer zones and certain non-licensable actions have shown to help prevent and reduce negative impacts.

At present ‘official’ English beaver populations are restricted to a small number of locations in southern England including a pair introduced to an enclosure on the Greathrough Brook in the Forest of Dean, while evidence of ‘unofficial’ releases have been reported from the River Wye catchment, including Herefordshire.

At ATW Ecology our team of ecologists and associates are experts in freshwater ecology and riparian mammals with specialist training and experience of surveying for beavers, if you need advice on dealing with the impacts of beavers, we would love to hear from you. Further information on living with and managing beavers can also be found on Natural England’s blog.