Pair of beavers released at Plymouth farm - marking species' return to city

  • Watch Plymouth City Council's video of the beaver release

A pair of beavers have been released at a farm in Plymouth, marking the reintroduction of the species to the city's landscape.

The pair of Eurasian beavers are unrelated orphans from the Tay Catchment in Scotland and spent two months at the Cornwall Seal Sanctuary before arriving at Poole Farm.

The beavers, one male and one female, have now been in their new home for four weeks and have already started to make changes to the landscape, experts say.

Beavers were previously at Poole Farm, but storm damage to the re-wilding enclosure in 2021 meant one escaped and was hit by a car.

Plymouth City Council has said it has since strengthened the enclosure and invested in more robust storm gates on the watercourse entrance and exits.

Beaver release Credit: Chris Parkes Photography

The farm has also had visits from national beaver experts, who are positive about the project and have given the green light for the new beavers.

The beaver introduction is part of the Green Minds project, a Plymouth City Council initiative designed to restore green spaces.

The beavers’ behaviour and the changes they make to the landscape will now be monitored to show how their actions can reduce flooding further downstream and create habitats for wildlife in the Bircham Valley.

Beavers engineer their surroundings by felling trees, damming sections of river and creating a network of canals and ponds.

They create wetland habitats which are great for birds, fish and invertebrates and they also ‘slow the flow’ of water during and after rain which can help reduce flooding downstream.

In dry spells they keep water levels higher, leading to greener landscapes that are more resilient to drought and wildfires.

The council says it will monitor two very similar rivers – the Bircham, where the beavers are, and the Seaton - to see how the beavers make positive impacts.

One of the beavers, having just been released at Poole Farm. Credit: Chris Parkes Photography

The presence of beavers can lead to improved water quality and store carbon in a really efficient way to help combat the climate emergency.

The re-wilding enclosure at Poole Farm is six hectares big and covers 600 metres of river in a wooded valley.Roisin Campbell-Palmer, Head of Restoration at Beaver Trust which supports the project, said: “We are excited to support this urban beaver project which offers an important facility for community engagement through nature connection on site.

“We need as many spaces as we can find to help tackle increasing levels of eco-anxiety, and beaver wetlands have been shown to benefit in this regard.

“We look forward to supporting the site as they monitor whether the beavers have reduced flash flooding impacts and roll out education initiatives for the city and surrounding area.”

Matt Holden, Devon Beaver Project Lead at the Devon Wildlife Trust, added: “This is an exciting development for Plymouth and we look forward to observing the increase in wildlife that the presence of beavers should bring across the site."