Beaver Reintroduction

We are considering reintroducing beavers to Ennerdale, find out more below.
(Beaver Image © Wild Intrigue)

Our Proposal - Key Points

Led by the Wild Ennerdale  vision to restore missing natural processes,  we are  considering reintroducing beavers. The Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) is a well-studied species capable of providing biodiversity and economic benefits through its natural activities and offers a unique opportunity for Ennerdale.

Our vision is to see free living beavers reintroduced to the length of the River Ehen, from mountains to sea. As a first step, we propose to host some beaver family groups in the (partially enclosed) upper valley, east of Ennerdale Water. This would start a 3 to 5 year public engagement period during which we would engage with local landowners and communities to share and build up knowledge and experience with beavers living in the landscape. At the end of this period, we would hold a formal consultation to see if the local community supports the vision for beavers to have access to the full length of the River Ehen.  As a partnership we want to see beavers having full freedom to explore unhindered and are not proposing a permanent enclosed release.

We have commissioned an independent expert-led ecology feasibility study which was completed in 2020 and reports that the valley would be suitable for a multi-family beaver release.

A licence is required from Natural England to release beavers., Ahead of the licence application, we are spending time engaging publicly with local communities and authorities with the help of Wild Intrigue who bring specialist experience from other beaver sites in the UK. We hope to be in a position to seek formal consultation later in 2021 which will be co-ordinated through a dedicated Citizen Space webpage.

Depending on engagement and licence application outcomes, the timeline for beavers arriving in the upper valley in Ennerdale is Spring 2023. This is subject to change but gives an idea of aspirations. If you have any comments in the meantime, please contact us or join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Beaver Public Engagement Opportunities Updated 11/05/2022

Over Winter and Spring 2021-2022 the Wild Ennerdale partners supported by Heather Devey from Wild Intrigue have held; 4 online Zoom presentations, 4 in person drop in events in Ennerdale Bridge, Cleator, Egremont and Whitehaven, 2 in valley events and presented the proposals to 3 local societies/groups. Across these events we have presented our proposals to over 300 people. In addition our social media beaver posts had a reach of over 30,000 which prompted 1400 engagements. If you missed any of these opportunities you can watch a recording of one of the the online presentations here on YouTube.

We are continuing with our public engagement and are focussed on meeting groups that we haven't previously met. In addition we are reviewing the responses we have received so we can best incorporate these into the final proposal and future public engagement and consultation.

If you have any questions about joining these events, get in touch at beavers@wildennerdale.co.uk or contact one of the Wild Ennerdale Partners

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More about our Proposal

Beavers are brilliant architects

As aquatic mammals, beavers have evolved to be entirely dependent on water, so their anatomy is perfectly suited to build and maintain wetland habitats.

Chisel like teeth are used to coppice trees, which as well as providing food, provide essential building materials for constructing their dams. Non-webbed forefeet act as dextrous hands, which are used for carrying building materials across land and water, and for digging new connective channels between pools.

Where beavers do not have an existing deep water body, they create their own by damming streams and pooling water to a depth of around 1 meter, often in a dynamic network. These valuable habitats bring huge benefits to a wide range of plants and wildlife. As well as benefiting wildlife, these large, beaver wetlands benefit humans by slowing the flow of water downstream, holding more water back in landscape, and providing a natural filtration service.

Hear what other people have to say about living alongside beavers in the Beaver Trust’s excellent "Beavers without Borders" film.

More about beavers

Living with Beavers
(thanks to Cornwall Wildlife Trust)

How Beavers prevent Flooding
(thanks to the Wildwood Trust)

River Otter Beaver Trial Results
(thanks to Devon Wildlife Trust)