Beavers re-introduced to Nottinghamshire countryside for first time in 400 years

  • Words and video report by ITV News Correspondent Chloe Keedy

It was an enormous privilege to be at Idle Valley Nature Reserve in Nottinghamshire on Friday, one of a small handful of people to see two rare Scottish beavers released into their new home. 

They are, in fact, the first beavers to set foot in Nottinghamshire for 400 years.

And a pair, along with a family of five who were released today in a different part of the same reserve, account for the biggest group of Scottish beavers ever introduced in England.

Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer was responsible for trapping the beavers in Scotland and preparing them for the move.

Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer was responsible for trapping the beavers in Scotland and preparing them for the move.

After releasing the male and female beavers she hopes will soon become mates, she said: "It makes all the sleepless nights and early starts worth it.

"You can see the habitat, it's absolutely stunning. This is where beavers do really well and where they should be."

But it’s not just about what’s good for the beavers. Janice Bradley, who is managing the rewilding project for The Wildlife Trust, showed me the scrubland that the beavers will, in future, help them to manage.

She said: "You can see the scrub has grown along some of our shorelines here and we cut it back and it grows again!

"The beavers will be able to munch it all the time for us. They'll also create new pools and little ponds, all of which will benefit other species like amphibians, frogs and toads."

The Idle Valley Nature Reserve in Nottinghamshire

This is part of an ongoing experiment aimed at reintroducing the species across Britain. Two years ago beavers were reintroduced on Exmoor in Devon, where they have been helping to control flooding by building a dam.

But in Scotland, where around a thousand beavers live in the wild, not everyone is impressed. Some farmers blame them for causing damage to their land. Beavers can be legally killed by anyone with a licence. 

But at Idle Valley Nature Reserve, they argue that beavers have a crucial part to play in combatting the climate crisis.

Seven beavers were released, including a mum and four kits.

Paul Wilkinson, Chief Executive of the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust said: "This is allowing nature to recover at scale.

"We have lost a huge amount of our wild places and wildlife over the last hundred years and we need to get into a place where nature is able to recover."

A few days ago the Cop26 summit heard Sir David Attenborough single out the role of beavers in the rewilding projects which he claims can help fight climate change.

He said as "our natural water engineers", beavers can play a vital part in bringing back important wildlife habitats.

Experts here hope that today will have given that process a boost. And that monitoring the behaviour of these animals over the next few months and years, will enable them to show the benefits of bringing beavers back in greater numbers.