Beavers set to be released in Derbyshire today

Beavers set to be released in Derbyshire today

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have just released beavers at their Willington Wetlands Nature Reserve in the south of Derbyshire today.

The two adults – a male and female - were captured in Tayside in Scotland earlier this month, following quarantine and health checks at specialised facilities at Five Sister Zoo they were carefully transported to Derbyshire by the Beaver Trust this morning.

The beavers are enclosed within the 46 hectare reserve by 5km of beaver proof fencing and kept a close eye on by volunteers and trail cameras.

Not only is it a reintroduction of a lost species not seen in Derbyshire for 800 years, but beavers are key to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s goal for a wilder Derbyshire.

Kate Lemon, Regional Manager at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said:

“This is such an exciting moment for a wilder Derbyshire – the whole team at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have been carefully planning this for the last three years and its huge thanks to our Trustees, funders volunteers and supporters that we’re here today.


(C) Nick Upton/Cornwall Wildlife Trust

This is just the beginning, these beavers will help us to shape, improve and care for our wetland area in Willington and in time, with the monitoring work we have planned, we will understand more and be able to show how they could play a crucial role helping us to respond to the impacts of a changing climate.”

Beavers are often referred to as 'ecosystem engineers'. They make changes to their habitats, such as coppicing trees and shrub species, damming smaller water courses and digging 'beaver canal' systems.

These activities create diverse and dynamic wetlands - helping to connect floodplains with their watercourses. In turn, these wetlands can bring enormous benefits to more wildlife including otters, water voles, kingfisher, egret, frogs, toads, dragonflies and fish, as well as locking up carbon.

This is the first beaver reintroduction in the Midlands and has been made possible by generous funding from Severn Trent Water, Biffa Award and a crowdfunding campaign.

Graham Osborn, Principal Ecologist for Severn Trent, said:

“It’s fantastic to see beavers return to Derbyshire after all this time. It’s a project we’re proud to support through our Great Big Nature Boost scheme, because what’s good for nature is good for water too.

“This project isn't just about the reintroduction of a lost species. It's about the regeneration of healthy wetland habitat. We’re excited to see how these beavers can use their engineering talents to transform Willington Wetlands.

“We’re always looking for more nature based solutions to reduce the risk of flooding and beavers can help by capturing and cleaning nearby waterways.”

Rachel Maidment, Biffa Award Grants Manager, said:

“It is a privilege to be present at the release of these beavers and to see Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s vision for a wilder Willington Wetlands come to fruition.

“The £75,000 Biffa Award grant will not only support the beaver reintroduction, it will also help to manage the vital wetland habitat and make a significant impact on the natural landscape. It is extremely important that we continue to support projects like this which promote nature’s recovery and enable wildlife to survive and thrive.”

Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer, Restoration Manager, Beaver Trust

“Following successful trapping and health screening the beavers are now ready to start their new lives in this fantastic enclosure. With plenty of foraging and building opportunities, they will spend the next couple of weeks exploring and settling into their new surroundings. It is likely they will quickly start building a lodge to overwinter together, with any luck this could result in offspring next summer”

In the coming weeks, the Beaver Trust will move a second pair to the reserve.

Working in partnership with scientists and experts, the Wildlife Trusts have been at the forefront of beaver reintroduction and projects in Britain ever since Kent Wildlife Trust released the first pair into a fenced area of fenland in 2001, followed by the Scottish Beaver Trial in 2009.

This is the second Wildlife Trust reintroduction in England this year, after Dorset released a pair of beavers at an enclosed site in February. Cheshire Wildlife Trust released their first pair in November last year and Montgomery Wildlife Trust released their first pair of beavers in March. Plans are also underway for the first release in Nottinghamshire in November.