Trust encourages Scottish Government to back beaver reintroduction

Trust gives backing to reintroduction of beaver as keystone species.

With the Scottish Environment Minister set to announce later this year the government’s response to the five-year beaver trial at Knapdale, the John Muir Trust has given its backing to the reintroduction of the keystone species.

The Trust is urging the Scottish Government to welcome the return of the Eurasian beaver as a native species and allow further reintroductions across Scotland. At the same time, the Trust has launched a new policy statement declaring its support for the principle of rewilding.

“We would like to see large parts of Britain set aside for what has become known as ‘rewilding’ – which means repairing damaged ecosystems, restoring natural processes and reintroducing lost species, including the beaver to create a richer, wilder environment,” said Trust Chief Executive Stuart Brooks.

The Trust believes that such a visionary approach would benefit not just nature, but also people and communities, especially in remote areas. Rewilding pockets of our towns and cities could also play a role in bringing nature into more of our lives.

“The Trust has taken a rewilding approach to the management of its properties for 30 years, long before the term was coined,” said Stuart Brooks. “Rewilding is about intervening to repair damage and restart natural processes – for example, by managing deer to allow native woodlands to regenerate; or by re-introducing missing species, such as beavers, that perform key functions in our ecosystems. That in turn will ultimately allow nature to take its own course and be more resilient in the face of climate change.

“It is not about excluding people, imposing unwanted policies on rural communities or damaging people's livelihoods. We recognise that rewilding is not suitable everywhere, for example, in areas of high agricultural value.

“But for other areas it can provide the step-change we need to bring back the full diversity of our natural heritage. Much of our land is impoverished – for humans and wildlife – and we believe that returning nature in these areas to its former glory would benefit everyone.

“Our hills, rivers and seas should be teeming with wildlife that people will want to see and experience. By bringing visitors from all over the world, some of our most fragile communities in our most remote areas could start to thrive once again, as is happening in other parts of Europe where nature has been encouraged to flourish.”

On species reintroduction, the Trust believes that the successful Scottish Beaver trial should be followed up with further licensed introductions of the animals across Scotland and other parts of the UK. In time, and with public consultation and support, the Trust hopes to see credible proposals brought forward in the future for trial reintroductions of carnivores, starting with the lynx.

• Find out about the Scottish Beaver Trial

• Read the new John Muir Trust Rewilding Policy

• The John Muir Trust is a signatory to 'A Vision for a Wilder Europe'