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Protected species: beavers

The reintroduction of beavers to Scotland is one of the most significant changes to the natural environment in many years.

Beaver populations reintroduced to Argyll and Tayside will remain, and the species will receive legal protection in line with the European Habitats Directive in 2018. The species will be allowed to expand its range naturally.

This decision will see the return of a species that was part of our wildlife for thousands of years before becoming extinct here around the 16th century.

Beavers can have a very positive impact on the environment, wetland habitats and wildlife, and also bring socio-economic benefits. But some human impacts will need to be managed.

Our Beavers in Scotland report draws on 20 years of work, including:

  • the five-year Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale
  • work on the impact of beavers on salmon and trout, and on areas of productive farmland

We’ve learned from the experience of other European and North American countries and expect to introduce licensing for beavers once the species is protected. This will enable the management of unwanted impacts from beaver activities on people, infrastructure and the farmed and natural environments.

We expect simple management techniques to prevent beaver damage – like controlling flow through dams – or protecting valuable trees, won’t need to be licensed. More intensive management techniques, including lethal control, are permitted under the Habitats Regulations and will require a specific licence.

Such a framework allows beavers to provide biodiversity benefits while preventing serious damage to land uses and infrastructure.

Find out how the beaver lives.

NEWS - Scottish Beaver Forum Newsletter, August 2017

Our August newsletter includes up to date information on SNH and partner organisations' ongoing work relating to beavers in Scotland. The newsletter is designed to keep interested parties informed as we move towards European Protected Species status, providing links to more information and further guidance.