In May 2008, the Scottish Government gave permission to the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust for a scientifically monitored, trial reintroduction of Eurasian beavers to Knapdale Forest in mid-Argyll. However, there were some conditions, including the need for the monitoring to be done independently, and coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage.
The scientific monitoring period of the Scottish Beaver Trial came to an end in the spring of 2014. The final reports from all of the independent monitoring partners are available through the SNH website.
Independent Monitoring Partners:
- Beaver ecology – in partnership with the University of Oxford
- Otter – in partnership with the University of Oxford
- Fish – in partnership with the Argyll Fisheries Trust
- Dragonflies and damselflies – in partnership with the British Dragonfly Society
- Woodland habitat – in partnership with The James Hutton Institute (previously called the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute)
- Loch habitat, including aquatic plants – in partnership with the University of Stirling
- River habitat – in partnership with the University of Stirling
- Hydrology – in partnership with the University of Stirling
- Socio-economics – in partnership with the Scotland’s Rural College (previously called the Scottish Agricultural College)
A number of other monitoring projects were led by these independent organisations:
- Beaver health – Led by the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
- Water chemistry – Led by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency
- Public health – Led by Argyll and Bute Council
- Scheduled monuments – Led by Historic Scotland
Following the scientific work undertaken at SBT, SNH have complied and released their report ‘Beavers in Scotland’. This report draws on 20 years of work on beavers in Scotland, as well as experience from elsewhere in Europe and North America. It provides a comprehensive summary of existing knowledge and offers four future beaver scenarios for Ministers to consider.
This publication and all of the other monitoring reports and summary posters can be found on the SNH website here http://www.snh.gov.uk/beavers-in-scotland. The SBT project partners final report is available on our website.
The Scottish Beaver Trial is now in a holding period whilst we await the decision from the Scottish Government about the future of beavers in Scotland. In May the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform; Dr Aileen McLeod visited Knapdale and toured the Beaver Trial site to gain a first hand view of the Trial, and meet with the trial partner organisations and locals. We eagerly await to hear what this decision will be.
In the mean time, the SBT beavers continue on with their lives in Knapdale, and our information centre is still open to visitors. This is a difficult time of year to see the beavers as it is dark when they are active, but visitors can still enjoy a walk around the trial site to look for beaver feeding signs at the loch edges. Throughout the winter when there are fewer leaves on the trees, it is actually much easier to spot the beaver dam and lodges, so there is always something to see whatever time of year you chose to visit.