Glen Affric, Scotland's most celebrated picturesque glen, could soon be home to beavers if a proposal by Trees for Life charity and landowners is successful
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Beavers could be reintroduced to a world famous Highland glen if a rewilding charity’s bid is successful.
Trees for Life wants to make Glen Affric Scotland’s next release site for large aquatic rodents which became extinct in Britain over 400 years ago.
The rewilding charity is carrying out a community consultation over the proposal on behalf of four private landowners and Forestry and Land Scotland, who all manage land that has habitat capable of supporting a beaver population.
If the proposal is successful, it would be the first official release of beavers to the north-west Highlands since the species was driven to extinction.
Beavers are now a protected native species first reintroduced to Scotland in 2009.
Trees for Life has long campaigned to protect beavers in Scotland, supporting relocation to suitable habitat rather than culling in places where beavers have had an unwanted impact on agricultural land.
The results of the six-week consultation, which began yesterday (Monday, July 25) will be submitted to the Scottish Government’s nature agency NatureScot in September as part of the beaver licence application.
Alan McDonnell of Trees for Life said: “Studies show that beavers can bring extensive environmental and economic benefits.
“At the same time, understanding the views of the local community – from other landowners to angling clubs – is a key step in deciding whether to go ahead with any proposed beaver release.
“Like us, the landowners making this proposal really want to hear what people think.
Joan Cumming, north region environment advisor at Forestry and Land Scotland, said: “Proposals such as this can excite a lot of opinion – supportive, opposed, or somewhere in-between – so it’s important that as broad a range of stakeholders as possible get in touch with Trees for Life to take part in the conversation and make their views known.”
If NatureScot approves the licence, up to three pairs of beavers could be relocated to Glen Affric from lower Tayside before the end of the year.
The releases would be spread out over two to three years, with the Beaver Trust carrying out the translocations, and would take place around Loch Affric and Loch Beinn a’Mheadhain.
Following its change in approach to beaver management last year, the Scottish Government now actively supports relocations to suitable locations across Scotland.
The publication of Scotland’s first National Beaver Strategy is imminent.
NatureScot now also operates a Beaver Mitigation Scheme, which provides advice and funding to landowners and farmers to manage beaver impacts.
Full details on the Affric beaver release proposal can be found on the Trees for Life website. Anyone wishing to share their views on the proposal, or ask questions, should visit www.treesforlife.org.uk/beaverproposal or email email@example.com.