London welcomes urban beavers for first time
A family of Eurasian beavers has been released today at Paradise Fields, an area of woodland and wetlands in urban Greenford, in the London Borough of Ealing. The return of this native species is part of a collaborative project plan to boost wildlife, increase the urban landscape's climate resilience and engage thousands of people in nature. Crucially, the project aims to reduce flood risk in urban Greenford.
Following public consultation and a special licence being granted by Natural England, the beavers have been relocated from wild populations in Scotland by experts at the Beaver Trust and Five Sisters Zoo. They will be monitored by Ealing Beaver Project staff and volunteers as they establish their new home in the 8-hectare fenced enclosure.
Beavers are a native species and were once commonplace along British rivers and streams, but they were hunted to extinction here around the 16th century, prized for their thick fur, meat and scent glands. Over the last 20 years they have been reintroduced to a handful of sites around Britain, largely in enclosures such as the one at Ealing.
A phenomenal volunteer effort has helped prepare the site for the arrival of these ecosystem engineers, with community members fully trained to monitor beaver welfare.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I am delighted to welcome back beavers to West London for the first time in 400 years, with the support of my Rewild London Fund. We are facing climate and ecological emergencies worldwide, but we have the power to make a difference, and I am committed to ensuring that London is at the forefront of reversing the trends of declining biodiversity and the destruction of nature.
“I'm proud that we are turning London into a wildlife haven, as well as making the city more resilient to the effects of climate change, as we work to clean up our city, re-establish lost species and reconnect people and nature, building a greener, fairer city for all Londoners. I encourage groups to apply to the fund now.”
Dr Sean McCormack, vet and Chair of Ealing Wildlife Group said: “It's unbelievably exciting that after a lot of hard work and volunteer effort to make this happen, we're welcoming beavers back to Ealing. We're excited to show they can have benefits in the urban landscape, not only for wildlife but for people too. Their activities here over the coming years should provide effective nature-based solutions to urban problems such as flood mitigation and improved water quality. We're also excited to see the wildlife that shows up on site and the effects that having nature on your doorstep can have for urban communities.”
Head of Restoration at Beaver Trust, Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer, said: “It's an important move in the species' restoration – projects like these offer an ideal opportunity to promote engagement with this species while we await a national policy framework for wild releases. It's incredibly rewarding to see community-driven action to reconnect more people with nature and welcome beavers back into this urban landscape.”
The project is a collaboration between Ealing Wildlife Group, Citizen Zoo, Friends of Horsenden Hill and Ealing Council, with support from Beaver Trust, and funding from the Mayor of London and Amazon's Right Now Climate Fund in partnership with the London Wildlife Trust and Groundwork London, under the Rewild London Fund.
The site will be temporarily closed for a period of one month, to allow the beavers time to settle in. For the following month, members of the public will be able to visit the site under the supervision of staff and volunteers for another month. After this, full public access will resume, offering a ground-breaking opportunity to experience the emergence of an urban beaver wetland first-hand.
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