Native to mainland Britain, beavers are herbivores who were hunted to extinction in the 16th century for their fur, meat and scent glands. The loss of beavers led to the loss of the mosaic of lakes, meres, mires, tarns and boggy places that they were instrumental in creating, but they have since been re-introduced to Britain over the last 20 years.
Beavers help stop flooding downstream, filter out impurities and create new homes for otters, water voles and kingfishers. They also create a wonderful range of wetland habitats that provide homes for other wildlife and greatly enhance conditions for nature to thrive. The channels, dams and wetlands that beavers engineer hold back water and release it more slowly after heavy rain, helping to reduce the risk of flooding. Their activities prevent soil being washed away after rainfall – their dams filter water, cleaning it and reducing pollution downstream.