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.
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.