Bringing Beavers back…to Ealing?

Left to right: Jon Staples (Ealing park ranger), Martin Smith (Friends of Horsenden Hill), Sean McCormack (Ealing Wildlife Group & London Beaver Working Group), Róisín Campbell-Palmer (Beaver Trust), Elliot Newton (Citizen Zoo & London Beaver Working Group), Ben Stockwell (Citizen Zoo & London Beaver Working Group).

An exciting meeting of various stakeholders took place on January 17th 2022 to scope out the potential for an urban beaver reintroduction project in London. Ealing Wildlife Group are entering talks to partner with Ealing Council park rangers, Friends of Horsenden Hill and Citizen Zoo to apply for a licence for an enclosed urban beaver reintroduction trial.

Sean McCormack exploring Paradise Fields, one of the proposed locations for a London Beaver reintroduction trial

We recently invited the Beaver Trust, London Beaver Working Group and Citizen Zoo to come and assess the proposed release site, Paradise Fields in Greenford, Ealing. And the feedback was very promising and positive that the site is suitable and our proposal would be supported.


Beavers are coming back in the UK landscape and it won’t be long before they reach more urban areas. Indeed there are already free living beaver populations as close to London as Medway in Kent to the Southeast and Oxfordshire to the West. So we need to learn to live alongside them when they do arrive. An enclosed trial in the urban setting therefore could provide us with a lot of learning opportunities.

We are keen to set up an enclosed urban trial in Ealing to assess and monitor:

  1. how beavers can mitigate flooding in the urban landscape
  2. how urban communities engage with beaver reintroduction, rewilding and wildlife reintroduction
  3. how beavers can alter urban wetland habitats and improve their biodiversity
  4. how beaver-human-landscape conflicts can be mitigated in the urban landscape
  5. how we can bring back other threatened or locally extinct wildlife species such as harvest mice and water voles using beavers as ecosystem engineers

Here is a great talk by our friend at Citizen Zoo, Elliot Newton, explaining why bringing back beavers to London is a good idea:

For further information or press enquiries please contact hello@ealingwildlifegroup.com

7 Comments

  1. Ilyan

    Wow thats amazing news. I’d be glad to work on this project!

  2. Lesley Burgess

    I fully support the introduction of beavers to paradise fields. The project will mitigate flooding anx improve habitats. We need as many nature based solutions to climate change as possible.

  3. Lesley Burgess

    I support the project. Great to have nature based solutions to flooding and biodiversity.

  4. John Branch

    It’s great to see beavers being reintroduced but as an angler I also want to see more effort going into our river ecosystems. Beavers need fish and our stocks have been falling for years.

    • Sean McCormack

      Hi John, it’s a common misconception that beavers need fish but they don’t, that’s otters. Beavers are entirely herbivorous, feeding on trees and waterside vegetation. The changes they bring actually improve aquatic and river ecosystems and they can improve fish stocks through providing cleaner water, more invertebrates as food and more deadwood habitat as shelter for fish fry to avoid predation. There’s a great section in this film about angler’s concerns and why beavers are actually good for your hobby.

      https://youtu.be/q4Mmjm22GiY

      And there’s more info and papers on their effects on fish here:
      https://beavertrust.org/beavers-create-healthy-rivers-for-wildlife-and-people/#beaverscience

  5. Albertina McNeill

    Wouldn’t a more effective and immediate option to stop surface flooding in Greenford be the prevention of gardens being paved over or built on? There are around eighty houses in my street. This year about half of the front gardens disappeared completely under paving as they were bought, probably as buy to let properties, and “improved”. Most now have electric chargers as though that makes up for it. Most had or have garages that are now used for storage. There have been several applications for structures in back gardens. Shouldn’t we hiring more enforcement officers to impose the rules rather than expecting small mammals to fix this? I’d be interested to know how your consultation is supposed to take into account the views of the substantial number of older Greenford residents who do not use the internet and have no idea that this proposal is being made? Many maintain gardens and use public transport. They are frugal and careful to reuse what they can because it is their habit, often developed during or after the Second World War. I would like to know who is going to fund this? Will you be accepting grants from the Greenford Quay developers who are responsible for the tower blocks that are loathed by almost everyone living in Greenford, warehousing rather than housing people? These can now be seen from Paradise Fields when you walk up from the canal.

    • Sean McCormack

      Hi Albertina,

      You’re dead right, that would definitely be something that would reduce surface flooding but as a volunteer-run local wildlife group sadly we don’t have much influence over what people do with their properties, I wish we had. Also, do we have to choose between the two solutions? Both discouragement of paving and beaver reintroduction could be utilised, it’s not one or the other really is it? I’d suggest (as I have before) that everyone write to the planning department and local councillors/MPs if this is becoming a big issue in your neighbourhood. As regards reaching older residents, we have put signs up in the area with more details on the proposal, and have an email address and link to the consultation that perhaps a friend or relative might help them to access to air their views. Unfortunately, again being volunteer led and doing all of this in our free time, we don’t have time or resource to knock on every door in Greenford. Again, wish we had but need to make do how we can. Appreciate the concern and open to your suggestions if you have them? Finally, we have accepted partial funding from Ealing Council from Section 106 monies which are provided by local developers to improve green spaces locally for people and biodiversity as mitigation for new development. We have also applied for a funding grant from Rewilding Britain. And our project partners Citizen Zoo are speaking to some of their supporters about fundraising too. We haven’t accepted any funding from Greenford Quay. But we are open to any sponsors. That doesn’t mean we endorse the activities (past, present or future) of any potential sponsors. This is the real world we live in, and EWG are not going to refuse funding to improve spaces for wildlife based on not liking the fact new housing has already been built and is something we have to live with. Incidentally, I live in a new housing development similar to Greenford Quay which was the only option I could afford with the government Help to Buy scheme. We weren’t all born into a time when housing in West London was genuinely affordable and some of us now have to tolerate living in “warehouses” to get on the property ladder and get out of the trap of paying rent to private landlords. But I digress, this is about beavers at Paradise Fields. We’re just trying to improve things for people and wildlife however we can.

      Thanks,

      Sean
      EWG Chair

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