Why this part of Devon is still so green even during a drought

Beavers have helped to maintain an area of wetland during recent drought Credit: Jake Newman, KOR Communications

A piece of farmland in Devon has managed to stay green and luscious despite a drought being declared - all thanks to beavers.

Groups of beavers living on farmland managed by Clinton Devon Estates in East Devon have created dams, which have helped to keep an area of wetland green and hydrated in comparison to surrounding fields.

Drone footage shows how beavers used sticks and mud to create dams which are now holding back a large volume of water.

Beavers feel safe in water, so tend to find and preserve small areas of wetland.

A number of beaver families live on the Lower Otter Catchment of the land, having been introduced as part of a successful trial exploring the impact of beavers on the British countryside.

The beavers have stayed at the estate following the trial Credit: Jake Newman KOR Communications

The River Otter Beaver Trial ran at Clinton Devon Estate, in partnership with the Devon Wildlife Trust and Exeter University.

In 2020, the five-year study concluded that beavers could bring measurable benefits to people and wildlife through flood alleviation and their ability to clean water supplies.

They were also found to help boost the numbers of fish and amphibians and so it was agreed the beavers could stay.

Clinton Devon estates director John Varley has said that although the benefits of the beavers far outweigh the negatives, their management comes at a cost.

He said: “In the right place, beavers can bring about major benefits for wildlife, the environment and society, including increased biodiversity.

“Clinton Devon Estates supported the River Otter Beaver Trial from the beginning because we wanted to understand the full impact of beavers in a real-world setting. During the project, we learnt a great deal about these benefits, such as cleaner water, natural flood management and habitat creation.

“However, we have also witnessed negative impacts when beavers are in the wrong place - farmers’ fields, private property and roads flooded, as well as trees damaged.

“As the beaver population on the River Otter grew and expanded, so did the need for proactive management, and all the costs associated with that.

"We believe that if properly funded by Government, the cost of managing beavers is far outweighed by the social and economic benefits to nature and the public.”