Bring Back Beaver: rewilding in Devon

Announcements expected on major new rewilding projects to highlight the twin benefits of saving wildlife while also creating carbon sinks and mitigating impacts from climate change.

With only days before the consultation closes on November 17, Devon Wildlife Trust is urging people to get behind its call to ‘bring back beavers.’

.

The PM has made a big noise about his green agenda – but how realistic is it? Asks the House magazine from Parliament today:

Conservationists Say Boris Johnson’s ‘Build Back Beaver’ Plans Must Go Beyond Punchlines

A fresh impetus to drive forward the link between the revitalisation of nature and pulling the world back from the brink of an unstoppable climate disaster has emerged at the very top of government. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made headlines at his party’s annual conference in September when he riffed on his “Build Back Better” agenda, saying his climate objectives, which include plans to protect 30 per cent of the UK’s land-based habitats could be best summed up by the slogan “Build Back Beaver”.
Johnson’s beaver fever has become symbolic of the government’s hopes to persuade fellow world leaders there is a symbiotic relationship between the natural environment and efforts to tackle climate change, with announcements expected on major new rewilding projects to highlight the twin benefits of saving wildlife while also creating carbon sinks and mitigating impacts from climate change.

Until recently, Westminster’s own approach to rewilding left much to be desired, mainly consisting of a patchwork of consultations and policies created and implemented primarily by the environment department. Even Johnson’s totemic beaver plan still lags far behind legislation and protections already in place in Scotland, with the benefits of having the species back in the wild only properly examined after a pair of them escaped from captivity into the River Otter in Devon in 2013. Having been marked for extermination by the government, they were spared after a public outcry and promises of financial support and scientific monitoring from conservation groups and academics.
Over the course of a five-year study led by the University of Exeter, the two pairing groups grew to eight, and the busy beavers were found to have constructed a series of dams upstream from the flood-prone village of East Budleigh. Rather than installing expensive concrete barriers, the fugitive rodents had reduced the flood risk naturally, with peak flows measurably lower during flood season. Water quality rose as their barriers filtered out sediment and chemicals and other species flourished in the new habitat. As a result of their dam good work, the government announced in 2020 the group would become the first wild beavers in 400 years to be allowed to stay permanently in their new home.

Conservationists Say Boris Johnson’s ‘Build Back Beaver’ Plans Must Go Beyond Punchlines

Meanwhile, back in Devon, also today, Devon Live reports on further efforts by the DWT:

With only days before the consultation closes on November 17, Devon Wildlife Trust is urging people to get behind its call to ‘bring back beavers.’ It wants people to show support for the animals via the charity’s website here.

Devon charity urges people to help ‘bring back beavers’ – Devon Live

There are other rewilding projects happening in Devon:

We can act to preserve areas of sensitive habitat and in doing so, protect some endangered species and return their numbers to a healthy and sustainable population. The world is waking up to the fact that preserving and restoring the ecosystems in which we live is not just sentimentalism…

Fundraiser launched for Devon rewilding project – BirdGuides

Fundraiser by Pete Grugeon : Help Us To Create A New Nature Reserve

And:

The plan lays out our intentions to restore Home Farm Fields to its original parkland condition, which includes opening up the viewpoints for managed access and replanting over 140 trees in their original locations from the 18th century. Alongside this, we will be introducing a small number of grazers (cows and pigs) who will be allowed free access to a combination of fields, reducing their overall impacts on the land and giving more space for wildlife to return…

Devon Rewilding Network | Rewilding Britain

Rewilding at Sharpham – Ambios

The pigs playing a key role in Devon rewilding project | ITV News West Country

AONB ANNUAL 2021 SIMON ROPER – YouTube

Meanwhile, the debate is growing:

Beavers, lynxes and bison to be brought back into wild to restore UK ecosystem – Mirror Online

Rewilding: should we bring the lynx back to Britain? | Wildlife | The Guardian

Finally, though, it’s not just impressive animal reintroductions, but looking after our dwindling wild places:

Once existing in a vast swathe right down the west coast of Britain, “temperate rainforest” is one of the world’s rarest habitats. There are species living here that can live nowhere else, but it’s been gradually encroached on by humans for centuries. Now clinging on in small pockets, you can find patches of rainforest if you know where to look: in places like Dartmoor…

Open Country – Britain’s Forgotten Rainforest – BBC Sounds

Life finds a way: in search of England’s lost, forgotten rainforests | Trees and forests | The Guardian

Here’s an archive of Devon rewilding:

Urban rewilding in Devon – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Rewilding in Devon – Vision Group for Sidmouth (2020)

On the River Otter: successful rewilding of the beaver – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Rewilding in Devon – Vision Group for Sidmouth (2019)

   
© Vision Group for Sidmouth 2005-2022