Local Beavers Spark National Conference

When beavers appeared on the River Otter, most people welcomed their return to Devon.  A similar public response was seen in response to Scottish reintroductions to the rivers Tay and Knapdale. They also sparked a debate about the potential benefits of restoring wildlife.  For example, could beaver dams be a natural way to reduce flood risks?  Could pine marten reintroductions help control unwanted grey squirrel populations?  And could peat bog restoration improve drinking water quality?  All of these issues will be explored next week in a national conference in Exeter, hosted by The Mammal Society, Devon Mammal Group and Devon Wildlife Trust.


Fiona Matthews, Chair of The Mammal Society, said: “If wildlife restoration can bring benefits to people as well as to biodiversity then everyone is a winner.  Experts from across the country will be sharing their experiences of how to make ambitious projects a success.  We are delighted that leading policy makers, as well as conservation organisations and members of the public are coming together to work out a sustainable future for people and for wildlife. ”
The second day of the meeting will focus specifically on beavers.  These charismatic creatures have captured the hearts of the public and wildlife organisations.  Devon Wildlife Trust, which has coordinated efforts keep the beavers in Devon, and Richard Brazier from The University of Exeter, will provide updates on the effect of beavers on local waterways.  In addition, the leaders of the Scottish beaver reintroduction trial, which has now been running for several years, will give their perspectives.

Mark Elliott from Devon Wildlife Trust said: “The River Otter beaver Trial is genuinely exciting for mammal and wetland ecologists, and is a vital chance to study how beavers can re-integrate themselves back into the English landscape. We’re hoping that bringing together such a wide range of different perspectives will enable us to discuss the monitoring plans for the Beaver Trial in some detail, and identify some of the research opportunities that it will present.”

For more information, the full program of events and to book a place, visit http://www.mammal.org.uk/events/mammal-societys-autumn-symposium, or contact info@themammalsociety.org.
The event coincides with National Mammal Week, which runs from the 25thOctober to the 1st November.

Editors notes:

  1. Devon Wildlife Trust has released a video of the Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber ) in the River Otter, which can be found athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc8gzruzHDw
  2. The Mammal Society works at the interface of science, policy making and practice.  As the only society with an interest in all British mammals, its mission is to provide the scientific evidence-base for effective conservation and management.  It is currently conducting the official review of the conservation status and population size of British mammals for the English, Scottish and Welsh governments.  Its Mammal Atlas, which tracks the change in mammal distribution over the last 20 years, will be published in 2016.
  3. The Devon Mammal Group was formed in 1999 by a keen group of like-minded people all with an interest in furthering the conservation of mammals within the county and further afield. The group organises an extensive programme of events throughout the county including training on mammal tracking, talks about on-going and potential mammal projects both locally and nationally. They also organise occasional European trips and a topical symposium with national experts in attendance.
  4. Established as a registered charity in 1962, the Devon Wildlife Trust holds a unique and influential position. Unique because it is the only independent organisation concerned with all aspects of wildlife conservation in Devon.  Influential because it is a member of The Wildlife Trusts partnership, a nationwide network dedicated to the achievement of Living Seas and a Living Landscape in the UK.  Between us we have more than three quarters of a million members and care for over 2,000 nature reserves.
  5. The Mammal Society has published a book entitled “Euarasian beavers” which provides more information about these charming yet elusive creatures. Copies can be purchased fromhttp://www.nhbs.com/title/202908/the-eurasian-beaver and will be available at the Autumn Symposium event.
  6. For more information please contact: Charlotte Marshall at info@themammalsociety.org , 02380010985 or 07891495854


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