Beavers returning to Loch Lomond

WILDLIFE charity RSPB Scotland has been given permission to release beavers at Aber Burn in the Loch Lomond national nature reserve (NNR).

A report in 2019 found beavers had already found their way into the river catchment, but now NatureScot – the Scottish Government agency known previously as Scottish Natural Heritage – is allowing the organisation to release a family of beavers to speed up the recolonisation process.

The beavers will be captured on farms where they are likely to cause damaged and moved to Loch Lomond in the new year.

Donald Fraser, NatureScot’s head of wildlife management, said: “Beavers are ecosystem engineers, creating habitats such as ponds and wetlands where other species thrive, as well as moderating water flows and improving water quality.

“In doing so, they play an important role in helping to restore biodiversity and respond to the climate emergency in Scotland.

“This decision will allow beavers to be trapped and removed from highly productive agricultural land, and introduced to an ecologically suitable site, within their current natural colonisation range where they are expected to bring a range of benefits.”

He added: “We know that beavers can occasionally cause issues, and we recognise the concerns raised by some through the engagement process.

“We’re committed to working with RSPB Scotland, local communities, and stakeholders to develop an effective monitoring and management plan that seeks to minimise any negative beaver impacts and maximise the benefits and opportunities of beaver restoration.”

The decision marks the third site approved for the release of beavers in Scotland, following the initial beaver reintroduction trial at Knapdale in Argyll and a release at Argaty, near Doune, last year.

RSPB Scotland submitted its application in october.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, the charity’s head of species and land management in Scotland, said: “We are incredibly excited to be able to offer a home to these amazing animals.

“The Loch Lomond NNR is an ideal home for beavers with fen, open water, and wet woodland habitat for them to explore.

“Beavers are nature’s wetland creators capable of creating and managing habitats in a way that we could never hope to achieve.

“We are looking forward to seeing the benefits that beavers bring to the wider biodiversity including amphibians, fish, and wetland birds as well as our visitors who will hopefully see some of their engineering work over the coming years.”

Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.

Plus, don’t miss Andy Dobson’s article about hen harriers in the January issue of Scottish Field magazine.