Reintroducing the European Beaver to Britain: nostalgic meddling or restoring biodiversity?
MACDONALD DW., TATTERSALL FH., BROWN ED., BALHARRY D.
The European Beaver Castor fiber once occurred throughout Europe, but in many countries was exterminated or greatly reduced by over‐hunting. In the UK, Beavers were last recorded in Scotland in the sixteenth century. Thirteen countries have carried out reintroduction programmes to restore the range of the Beaver in Europe, We provide a basis for discussing the feasibility and desirability of reintroducing the Beaver to Britain. The basic biology of the Beaver is described, followed by summaries of reintroductions in Europe and an evaluation of their successes and failures. We address the fundamental questions of propagule size, habitat requirements, habitat size and provenance of Beavers to be released, before examining in theory whether reintroducing Beavers to Britain is likely to fulfil UKCINC and IUCN criteria relating to environmental impact, socioeconomics and conservation. We then make suggestions as to how a reintroduction to Britain could proceed. Essential work outstanding includes site assessment and public consultation. The restoration of the Beaver to Britain could be a fitting start to the millennium. Copyright © 1995, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved