NatureScot assessment of environmental effects of beaver translocations into new catchments
Following the Scottish Government announcement in November 2021 of a shift in policy to enable conservation translocations to new release sites in Scotland from July 2022, NatureScot are supporting this policy and are expecting to receive applications for beaver translocations over the coming months. To inform the likely effects of a programme of beaver translocations NatureScot have committed to carrying out an assessment of the environmental effects of beaver releases into new catchments (Environmental Report (ER) under Strategic Environmental Assessment Regs (SEA)). NatureScot also has a statutory duty to assess the potential impacts on Natura sites (Habitats Regulations Assessment) (HRA).
Assessments are being carried out at a catchment scale and are not specific to beaver release proposals. We are prioritising the assessment of new catchments where we are aware there is existing interest in beaver translocation and in catchments where we have assessed there is the most potential for environmental benefit and a lower risk of conflict.
A comprehensive ER (as required under the SEA Regs) and HRA of Natura sites, was carried out in 2017 and focused on two detailed zones; Tayside and Knapdale. We have produced an Addendum to the 2017 ER to provide an update to our knowledge of beavers, their effects, mitigation methods and the policy context. In producing strategic assessments (ERs) for new catchments we are seeking not to replicate much of the existing work, but to highlight what are likely to be the key effects (including cumulative effects) in the local environment in new catchments and explore where the balance is likely to sit in terms of benefits and risks. The ER does not prejudge any specific licence applications and NatureScot are looking to consult on the ERs and complete an HRA for the catchment in advance of issuing any licences for beaver release.
The first of the ERs we have produced is for the River Leven (Loch Lomond) and River Forth catchments.
The Environmental Reports can be found as follows including the post adoption reports.