The Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod has visited the Scottish Beaver Trial for the first time since taking up the post last year to learn more about the project ahead of a decision on the future of beavers in Scotland.
The five-year scientific monitoring period of the trial, which was overseen by Scottish Natural Heritage, came to an end last year. Scottish Ministers will decide later this year on allowing beavers to remain in Scotland and if wider reintroductions will take place, after considering the results of the Scottish Beaver Trial, findings from Tayside Beaver Study Group and considerations of European experiences.
The visit allowed Dr McLeod to meet with officials from the Scottish Beaver Trial, local businesses, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage to learn more about beavers, their effects and the Trial’s impact on the local area.
Project Manager of the Scottish Beaver Trial, Simon Jones, said: “On behalf of the Scottish Beaver Trial, I would like to thank the Minister for taking the time to visit the project and learn more about how the beavers have impacted the area.
“The trial has been very successful in allowing a great deal of important data to the gathered over the last five years – we have learned so much about these fascinating mammals. The research co-ordinated by SNH and the independent monitoring partners has looked at all aspects of the trial re-introduction including impacts on the local economy, the environment and of course the people of Argyll.
“All this information will be of great value in helping the Minster take a decision on the future of beavers in Scotland.”
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, said: Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Dr McLeod said:
“Today I had the opportunity to see the beaver trial in Knapdale the impacts this trial has had in the local area. The work of the Scottish Beaver Trial has brought together a wide range of interested parties to examine the impact of beavers.
“I am awaiting advice from Scottish Natural Heritage which will set out the impact of beavers, including the benefits to biodiversity and economic benefits through tourism, provided by the presence of beavers in Scotland.”
The Scottish Beaver Trial is a partnership led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. It is hosted at Knapdale by Forestry Commission Scotland. It is the first licensed reintroduction of a mammal to the UK and brought the beaver back to Scotland after a 400 year absence.
Last year, a YouGov poll found 60% of Scottish adults supported the reintroduction of beavers, with only 5% opposed. Independent monitoring reports released by Scottish Natural Heritage found the Scottish Beaver Trial had positive impacts on the local economy.
During the five year period, the Scottish Beaver Trial has engaged almost 3 million people about beaver ecology through television appearances, educational programmes and site visits. The scientific monitoring required 11,817 hours of fieldwork, such as beaver tracking, lodge surveillance and water sampling.