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The re-introduction of beavers to Studland

A Eurasian beaver perched by the water and eating
A Eurasian beaver perched by the water | © National Trust Images / Nick Upton

We’re working on a project to explore the re-introduction of Eurasian beavers to Purbeck, in an area of optimal habitat called Little Sea, near Studland. Beaver activity can increase biodiversity by providing habitats for a wide range of species including fish, amphibians, mammals, water-loving plants and insects. Learn how we're aiming to improve water quality affecting Poole Harbour and the rivers that flow into it.

Why launch this project?

Previously beavers were an important part of the natural ecosystem but became extinct across the UK in the 16th century due to hunting for their fur, meat and scent glands.

The habitat beavers need

Beavers need areas of deep, still or slow flowing fresh water to feel safe. Where water levels are not already sufficient, like small streams, they can adapt their environment by building dams. This slows the flow and creates wetlands and a patchwork of open water, which has the effect of improving water quality further downstream

A carefully managed approach

Across the UK beavers are gradually being brought back into the countryside as part of a managed approach. An enclosed beaver reintroduction at Holnicote estate in Somerset was successfully achieved in January 2020.

For more information on the Purbeck Beaver Project or about how to get involved, please email Gen Crisford at

Follow the latest project updates here

October 2022

Native species with protected status

The status of the Eurasian Beaver, as a native animal (in England) ws updated from 1 October. Whilst Eurasian beavers are a native species, they have been removed from this list as they 'ceased to be ordinarily resident in Britain.'  With this change they are officially making a comeback. Eurasian beaver have also been awarded a protected status, under 'Schedule 2 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulation Act 2017'. This will make it an offence to deliberately caputre, kill or injure beavers, or damage their homes without a licence. 

This month, DEFRA and Natural England have also published guidance on best practice management and licensing to support their protection. This guidance sets out how beavers are protected and a five-step approach to managing beaver activities. More information can be found  here. It also lays out situations when a licence is, or is not, needed to manage beaver activities and outlines the type of licences that will be available. 

Natural England have produced an explainer blog post - here.

Here in Purbeck this information will be presented and disseminated with a local focus in the coming months. We will also continue to work collaboratively with the NFU and our project stakeholders to provide support where we can. 

Next steps

The current information and government support is initially aimed at areas where wild beavers are already found. Natural England are continuing to undertake further work with DEFRA and stakeholders to develop a national approach to wild reintroductions in England. Further information on this, including the criteria for wild releases will be published in due course. This will dictate what is needed to go ahead with a licence application and should generally lay out the responsibility of a reintroduction project alongside that of landowners and governement agencies. We will also continue to work with Natural England on any specific steps needed for a project licence for Purbeck. 


A view of visitors walking along Knoll Beach from the dunes at Studland Bay, Dorset


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