Beavers to be reintroduced into West Sussex next year

The National Trust has announced plans to release a pair of beavers at a site in West Sussex next Spring, to help with flood management and improve biodiversity.

Natural England have approved the plans to release the Eurasian beavers at two sites in the South of England.

The local pair will be released into a fenced area at Valewood, on the Black Down Estate on the edge of the South Downs, the other two at Holnicote, on the edge of Exmoor in Somerset.

Ben Eardley, project manager for the National Trust at Holnicote, said:

“The dams the beavers create will hold water in dry periods, help to lessen flash-flooding downstream and reduce erosion and improve water quality by holding silt.”

David Elliott, National Trust lead ranger for Valewood in the South Downs, said:

“Beavers are nature’s engineers and can create remarkable wetland habitats that benefit a host of species including water voles, wildfowl, craneflies, water beetles and dragonflies.

“These in turn help support breeding fish and insect eating birds such as spotted flycatchers.”

It will be the first reintroduction of the creatures by the charity, since they became extinct in the UK in the 16th century due to hunting.

Mark Harold, director of land and nature at the National Trust, said:

“We know from the recent State of Nature report that wildlife is in decline, 41 per cent of species since 1970 and 15 per cent of species are under threat from extinction.”

The conservation charity will spend the next few months getting the habitats ‘beaver-friendly’ in time for their arrival.