BEAVERS have been re-introduced to a National Trust site in Haslemere.
As previously reported in the Herald in 2019, the site was just one of two National Trust locations selected for the pioneering project, which hopes to see beavers “once again become an important and integral part of the ecological system”.
Two beavers – a male and a female – have been released on the edge of the South Downs into a 37-acre fenced area, making it the second licensed release of the mammal by the charity in the last 15 months.
It is hoped that the duo will become a breeding pair, with the release coming as part of the charity’s ambition to create priority habitats for nature and to increase the diversity of species and wildlife on the land in its care.
This is the first release by the trust in south east England following the successful pilot at Holnicote on Exmoor last year, where beavers have thrived.
David Elliott, National Trust lead ranger for the South Downs West, said: “We are reintroducing a species which has been absent from this landscape for the last 400 years.
“Beavers are nature’s water engineers, they can help bring back the natural processes that have been missing from our environment.”
The project has been funded in part by the Black Down and Hindhead supporters of the National Trust, who raised around £62,000 thanks to local supporters, and a grant of £68,866 from Viridor Credits Environmental Company.
Bob Daniels, chair of the Black Down and Hindhead Supporters, said: “The project is a great example of the things we can do locally to positively influence species decline, in a world where the opposite is an alarmingly prominent feature of global headlines.
“Thanks to local donors, large and small, and several years of hard work the beavers have arrived on site. Now it’s up to the beavers to continue that hard work as ecosystem engineers in residence.”
Jane Cecil, National Trust general manager for the South Downs added: “We’re delighted that such a ground-breaking moment has been reached after a lot of hard work and preparation.
“As a conservation charity it’s vital that we can demonstrate how we both protect and enhance the environment.
“These precious places in the South Downs have been entrusted to us, to share them with people and to do the very best for nature and wildlife.”