Beavers could be reintroduced to SW London

Image above: a Eurasian beaver

Beavers could return to south west London should an application to reintroduce the animals be granted. The Ealing Beaver Reintroduction Project, led by the Ealing Wildlife Group, hopes to obtain a licence from Natural England in order to move two beavers into Paradise Fields in Greenford in 2023.

Others involved in the project include Ealing Council, Friends of Horseden Hill and Citizen Zoo. The Council has agreed to provide ranger support and partial financial backing as the scheme would ‘improve the local environment and provide community benefit’. Ealing Wildlife Group will be seeking further funding for the project should the application be successful.

Previously found across Britain, beavers were hunted to extinction in the 16th century. They have been successfully reintroduced in several parts of the country, with London’s first pair introduced to Enfield in early March.

Introducing the beavers could significantly improve local biodiversity and support rewilding efforts generally in London. Dams built by beavers reduce the risk of flooding and help control flow rate. The introduction of a pair of beavers would allow the project to study whether introducing beavers into the area could help cut the risk of floods like those seen in London last summer.

If successful, beavers would likely be captured in Scotland and brought down to parts of south west London.

Image above: a Eurasian beaver

Public consultation launched

For the application to go ahead, a public consultation has been launched so the concerns of local residents are taken into consideration.

The intention is to enclose most of the ‘highly suitable’ ten hectare site of Paradise Fields, so the beavers can be housed safely. While visitors would be allowed to enter the site, with hopes for educational tours in the future, site users will be asked to modify their behaviour to some degree.

Visitors would be expected to close gates, not to litter, to walk dogs on lead, sticking to paths, cyclists will need to dismount to enter and exit and to report any fence damage. It is for these reasons the consultation survey has been launched.

The survey requests feedback from local residents and site users, so that any concerns they have regarding the proposed changes can be addressed.

Various environmental groups cite evidence of beaver reintroduction providing unique benefits to local ecosystems. Beaver reintroduction in other parts of the UK has been accompanied with the natural return of various rare bird species and reduced flood peak flow rates.

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