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Decision to keep beavers in Scotland welcomed by Hutton scientists

Beaver in Knapdale forest (c) James Hutton Institute
“It was a pleasure to be able to contribute our expertise in browsing by woodland herbivores to the official beaver trial

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute have welcomed the Scottish Government's decision to allow beavers to remain in Argyll and Tayside as a protected species, but warned continued long-term monitoring and active management in sensitive areas will be essential.

The James Hutton Institute joined the project partners (RZSS, SWT and Forestry Commission) to measure the impact of beavers on woodland during the official five-year beaver trial reintroduction at Knapdale forest, near Lochgilphead, Argyll. This work formed part of an intensive monitoring programme coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage, and contributed important scientific information required for the government’s decision.

Professor Glenn Iason, a member of the Ecological Sciences group at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen and a contributor to the report, said: “It was a pleasure to be able to contribute our expertise in browsing by woodland herbivores to the official beaver trial. The intensive monitoring programme allowed us to show that the Knapdale beavers did not affect coniferous tree species, focused their activity very close to the water’s edge, and their preferred tree species were those that recovered best by re-sprouting following felling or browsing.”

“Our research in Knapdale also highlighted that the recovery of trees from beaver browsing or felling was slow and appears to be dependent upon the presence of other species that browse the re-growing shoots, particularly the deer.“

“These results mean that we can foretell their effects on trees elsewhere to some extent, but we still need better tools to predict which new areas will be colonised by beavers, their effects on woodlands, and how these effects are modified by subsequent deer browsing."

The decision by the Scottish Government marks the first time a mammal has been reintroduced to the UK. Beavers were native to Scotland until hunted to extinction in the 16th century.

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Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/decision-keep-beavers-scotland-welcomed-hutton-scientists on 23/01/19 09:58:12 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.