Beavers are set to be released at sites in the UK’s biggest national park.
NatureScot has approved a licence application for six beaver families to be released in the Cairngorms National Park.
Sites in the upper River Spey catchment have been selected for beavers despite some farmers raising concerns about the beavers damaging crops.
NatureScot said the decision would help increase the current range of beavers in Scotland, as set out as a priority in Scotland’s Beaver Strategy 2022-2045.
The park authority, RSPB Scotland and landowners Rothiemurchus Estate and Wildland Cairngorms are involved in the proposed release.
It also allows for future additional releases at other sites over the next five years up to a total of 15 beaver families.
The approval marks the fifth catchment to which beavers have either been officially granted permission to remain or have been released.
Populations are already established in Tayside, on the Forth, in Knapdale and Loch Lomond.
‘This decision marks a significant milestone for beaver restoration in Scotland, bringing this keystone species back to one of our biggest river catchments with huge potential for beavers to contribute to habitat restoration and biodiversity enhancement in the Cairngorms National Park,’ said Donald Fraser, NatureScot head of wildlife management.
‘We also appreciate and understand both the support and legitimate concerns articulated by farmers and crofters through the consultation process.
‘We are satisfied that the monitoring and mitigation plans set out by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, alongside our existing Beaver Mitigation Scheme, will sufficiently address any potential conflicts that may arise.’
Beavers died out in Scotland about 400 years ago but were reintroduced to Scotland in 2009.
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