Beavers are set to be reintroduced to London for the first time in 400 years. This comes as part of an urban rewilding initiative.
Beavers will return to west London for the first time in 400 years. This comes after receiving funding from the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.
Conservation groups received £40,000 from the mayor of London to create a publicly accessible reintroduction site where a pair of Eurasian beavers will be introduced at the site in Ealing. This is the first of its kind in any urban setting in the UK.
This is also a crucial step in the rewilding project as wild beaver populations in Oxfordshire and Kent move ever closer to London.
The Rewild London Fund – helping to ensure that ponds and surrounding landscapes are protected
Rewild London Funding will help design reedbed habitat creation in line with the London Environment Strategy target. Thus, this ensures that ponds and surrounding landscapes become more resilient and aid in supporting increased biodiversity.
Building skills and knowledge regarding successfully managing the ponds and surrounding habitats will also be taught. This project is one of 22 similar ones across the capital to receive mayoral support as part of the Rewild London Fund.
Sadiq Khan said, “Despite the harm inflicted on the natural world, we have the power to make amends, and I am committed to ensuring that London is at the vanguard of efforts to reverse the trends of declining biodiversity and the destruction of nature.
“Rewilding allows nature to take the lead and is an exciting way to create healthier ecosystems and allow humans and wildlife to live together more harmoniously”.
Urban rewilding – a progressive approach to conservation
Elliot Newton, a co-founder of the rewilding organisation Citizen Zoo, spoke about the potential for London to become a leader when it comes to urban rewilding.
He said, “We are hoping to challenge perceptions and demonstrate how London, too, can embrace these ecosystem engineers as we strive for a healthier, wilder future in which our capital can become a leader in urban rewilding”.
Beavers – given legal protection in England in 2022
Beavers were hunted to extinction in Britain 400 years ago for their glands, meat and fur. In 2022, beavers were given legal protection in England. Thus, it is a criminal act to kill or harm. They are now officially recognised as native wildlife.
Dr Sean McCormack, vet and chair of the Ealing Wildlife Group, said, “Many people assume beavers are a wilderness species, when in fact we’ve just forgotten how closely we used to live alongside them.
“We’re so excited to study how beavers interact with an urban river catchment and, crucially, with urban communities”.
Finally, environmentalists hope the new beaver strategy will allow the release of beavers back into the wild. Here, they can thrive and replenish their numbers.