Return of beavers to Norfolk rivers moves step closer

Eurasian beaver( Castor fiber) Rodent, eating.

The Glaven Beaver Project aims to reintroduce a breeding pair of beavers into the Upper Glaven area of North Norfolk. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Beavers were once common in Norfolk but disappeared when they were hunted to extinction in the 16th century. But now a project to reintroduce the semiaquatic rodents back to the county is close to reaching its goal.

The Glaven Beaver Project aims to reintroduce a breeding pair of beavers into the Upper Glaven area of north Norfolk.

Led by the Norfolk Rivers Trust, the project will see the beavers reintroduced into a private 5.6ha enclosure, where they and the habitat will be closely monitored.

Jonah Tosney, operations director of Norfolk  Rivers Trust

Jonah Tosney, operations director of Norfolk Rivers Trust - Credit: Norfolk Rivers Trust

Jonah Tosney, operations director of Norfolk Rivers Trust said reintroducing beavers to Norfolk was something the organisation had wanted to do for almost a decade.

"It's not so much about the beavers, it's about what they do for the environment, it's the best possible thing we can do for rivers in terms of preventing damage," he said.

A eurasian beaver

The Glaven Beaver Project aims to reintroduce a breeding pair of beavers into the Upper Glaven area of North Norfolk. - Credit: Tim Ellis 2014

Mr Tosney, said a few years ago a bid to reintroduce beavers to north Norfolk would have been seen as "ridiculous" but other schemes such as the project to reintroduce six animals back into Wild Ken Hill had helped pave the way.

He said: "People's views have changed. It's become more important and more obvious that we can do this stuff, where people do introduce beavers, eagles, butterflies and it does work. We know we can do it and it's possible."

The six-hectare enclosure within the upper reaches of the river Glaven in North Norfolk

The six-hectare enclosure within the upper reaches of the river Glaven in North Norfolk where the Norfolk Rivers Trust hopes to release two beavers. - Credit: Norfolk Rivers Trust

Mr Tosney said since the trust started approaching people about the scheme two years ago the project had received a mixed reception, with most people behind the project.

He said: "Some people are massively for it and have been very encouraging but we have also had concerns from farmers about flooding, fishermen have got concerns but those tend to ease when we talk to them about the reality.

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"We've had a huge amount of enthusiasm from the general public."

Eurasian beaver busy maintaining its dam

A beaver busy maintaining its dam. The Glaven Beaver Project aims to reintroduce a breeding pair of beavers into the Upper Glaven area of North Norfolk. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Mr Tosney said after the project successfully crowdfunded the £6,000 needed to secure the beavers it was waiting on permits from Natural England, which once received would hopefully mean the beavers could be released before the end of the year.

He said: "Beavers create amazing habitats for everything you can imagine, that's why we are doing it and we're going to monitor it really carefully. Wildlife, water quality, the reason we want them is just the excellent wildlife they bring, that's what the goal is."