Beavers set to return to north Nottinghamshire after 400 years

The reserve hopes to be able to welcome at least four beavers this year

It's been 400 years since beavers last inhabited the wetlands of north Nottinghamshire, but the Idle Valley Nature Reserve could soon have three beaver families in residence.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is planning to create a paradise for the animals at its largest site near Retford, north Nottinghamshire. It will be one of the largest beaver enclosures in England.

The charity is seeking to raise £250,000 to support the introduction of beavers, alongside the expansion of its grazing programme and other habitat improvements.

Bringing beavers back to Nottinghamshire after a 400-year gap will kick-start our efforts to make the site even richer for wildlife

Paul Wilkinson, Chief executive of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust
Beavers have already been released into a similar project in Cornwall Credit: Nick Upton

Janice Bradley, of the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, says that the beavers will help them to manage the habitats on the reserve.

They are what we call a keystone species, so they engineer their environment around them and in doing so they actually benefit many, many other species.

Janice Bradley, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Described as the engineers of the animal world, beavers build dams to give themselves access to deep pools of water. According to the Environment Agency, this can reduce the risk of flooding in areas downstream, as the dams reduce the flow of water.

In April 2019, a pair of beavers were released into a forest in Pickering, North Yorkshire, as part of an experiment to tackle flooding. This will be the first beaver enclosure for Nottinghamshire.

Beavers have already been released through a sister project in Cornwall Credit: David Parkyn

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust plans to create a 55 hectare beaver zone, capable of housing up to three beaver families and at least four beavers by the end of 2021.

The Idle Valley Nature Reserve is by far our most exciting site in terms of its potential for habitat restoration. It is already recognised as one of the richest bird-watching sites in the region and we’re determined to make it even wilder and to put it on the map as a truly inspiring wildlife destination.

Paul Wilkinson, Chief executive of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

People are being encouraged to have their say on the plans through an online survey, as well as recording wildlife sightings. The charity says this project is part of delivering "bold solutions to restore nature".

2021 looks set to be a record year for Wildlife Trust beaver projects with up to 20 animals planned to be released in counties including Dorset and Derbyshire.