Protect beavers in Scotland – a Environment crowdfunding project in Findhorn by Trees for Life
Scotland’s beavers need your help.
We are launching this crowdfunder to protect Scotland’s endangered beavers, by challenging NatureScot, the Scottish Government’s nature agency, in court over its failure to make the killing of beavers a genuine last resort. A ruling in our favour will secure a better future for Scotland’s habitat-creating, biodiversity-boosting, flood-preventing beavers.
Please donate to help cover the legal costs of this challenge.
What is the problem?
On 1 May 2019, beavers became a protected species under Scottish law. But last year, NatureScot allowed 20% of Scottish beavers to be killed.
Where beavers have unwanted local impacts, such as damaging arable land, the laws governing protected species require any intervention to have the least possible impact on conservation. All other options must be considered, including moving the animals to more suitable habitats, before giving landowners licenses to kill beavers.
For Scottish beavers these rules have been ignored. NatureScot has been too quick to issue licences to kill beavers and is failing in its legal duty to explore all options to ensure killing is a last resort. In 2019 and 2020 NatureScot trained 205 individuals to shoot beavers, but has only one individual employed to trap them for relocation.
What is the solution?
A positive solution is for NatureScot to consider and use all options for managing unwanted beavers before allowing them to be killed, including relocating them to suitable habitats in Scotland where animals can be safe and welcome.
NatureScot estimates Scotland has over 100,000 hectares of suitable habitat for beavers. And there are landowners who would welcome beavers on their land. Where beavers are causing problems, trapping and relocation to other parts of Scotland is a far more sensible alternative than lethal control.
We know beavers can thrive in the Highlands, just as they did until hunting made them extinct around 400 years ago. At a practical level, Trees for Life has been preparing for the return of beavers for over 25 years, creating habitat by planting aspens and willows, two of beavers’ favourite trees, along loch shores and riverbanks as we restore the Caledonian Forest.
What is so great about beavers?
Beavers are true ecosystem architects, and superb biodiversity boosters. They help rewilding by felling trees to build small dams, which lets in light to waterside woodlands. They create ponds and wetland habitat which increases the variety and abundance of plant and animal species.
These include water plants, beetles, frogs, dragonflies, ducks, water voles and spawning fish, to name a few. In turn these species can attract otters, herons, ospreys and other predators.
Felling trees might seem destructive but it actually creates valuable deadwood habitat for beetles, woodpeckers, fungi and more. The trees that the beaver cuts down often send up a thicket of new shoots. As a result, in the early stages more light reaches the woodland floor, often leading to a flush of wildflowers that attract butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects. The openings created in the woodland canopy offer perfect hunting grounds for bats. As the thicket grows it can then provide ideal nesting sites for birds such as warblers.
What can you do to help?
We need to raise £40,000 to cover the legal costs of this challenge and to help us protect Scotland’s endangered beavers.
A ruling in our favour will ensure that lethal control becomes a genuine last resort in all cases, because NatureScot will be required to exhaust all the options for moving beavers before they issue licences for lethal control.
If our judicial review succeeds, rewilding charities like Trees for Life and Lifescape will be able to identify suitable sites around Scotland to where beavers can be moved, with proper stakeholder engagement.
Any surplus funds raised by this Crowdfunder will be used by Trees for Life to protect the future of beavers in Scotland.
This content was originally published here.