Rewilding Ealing with Beavers!
Beavers have been making a comeback in the Uk in recent years. Originally native to the UK, they became extinct here 400 years ago, due to overhunting.
Continental beavers have been brought over here and released in enclosed and open release sites in Devon, and Scotland to reintroduce them back into our countryside. However, either through their own efforts or with a bit of “help”, beavers are now found in Kent and Oxfordshire and eventually they will make their way back to the capital.
This is a good thing though! Beavers are a keystone species and the perfect architects of healthy and biodiverse ecosystems! With their dam and canal creation they create wetlands and deadwood, which create ideal habitats for insects, amphibians, and even water voles! They also slow the flow of waterways which prevents flooding and filters water, improving water quality!
We are excited to announce that we intend to apply for a license from Natural England to reintroduce Eurasian beavers to Ealing in a controlled enclosure trial at Paradise Fields in North Greenford. This is a joint project between Ealing Wildlife Group (EWG), Ealing Council, Citizen Zoo and Friends of Horsenden Hill, supported by experts at the Beaver Trust. Ealing Council has agreed to provide ranger support and partial financial backing from Section 106 developer funding to improve the local environment and provide community benefit. We will be seeking further funding for the project in order to make it happen should our application be successful.
Following a series of visits, Paradise Fields has been identified as highly suitable habitat for beaver reintroduction, and as a flagship London rewilding project. The intention is to enclose most of the 10-hectare site and uniquely allow visitors to enter an immersive experience in a rewilding beaver landscape. Studying the impacts of beavers in the urban landscape in an enclosed trial setting first is very important before wider free-living beaver reintroduction is considered, or before natural recolonisation occurs over the coming years.
Free-living wild beavers are already as close to London as Medway in Kent to the South and Oxfordshire in the west. Natural recolonisation is almost an inevitability. Learning to live alongside beavers is something that landowners, local councils, residents, conservation organisations and other stakeholders are going to have to do in future. And excitingly today, the 17th of March 2022, Forty Hall Farm in Enfield released a pair of beavers into a woodland enclosure under license in a joint project by Capel Manor College and Enfield Council, the first beavers to live in London in 400 years.