We are absolutely delighted to announce that we have been granted a license to release 6 beavers into an enclosure at Wild Ken Hill. This will be the first time that beavers have existed in Norfolk for hundreds of years, and it’s a massive step towards growing the biodiversity at Wild Ken Hill.
We discussed previously the importance of beavers as a keystone species, and how they create habitats for other species. But this announcement is also timely because of another role that beavers play: as water management engineers.
Many experts, including Tony Juniper, have suggested that the current man-made water management systems in the UK are not fit for purpose. The recent, tragic floods in the north of England only reinforce this point.
Beavers could help us change this. The dams, channels and other structures that beavers engineer will help the land to hold onto water better. Simply, when it rains hard, the land will absorb more water, and when it’s dry, the land will also stay wetter.
And that’s why we are investing heavily in the monitoring aspect of our project. We have set up biodiversity monitoring programmes to cover multiple aspects of the beaver enclosure, and we are now working with our local university – University of East Anglia – to set up a water monitoring programme.
We want policy-makers to be able to make informed decisions about water management in the UK.
Our beavers will be released into a enclosure that’s almost 60 acres in size! We think this will be the largest enclosed project in England, and ten times the size of some of the projects that inspired us to do this, like the Forest of Dean. Coupled with the improvements in soil quality that we expect to see in the rest of the rewilding area, Wild Ken Hill will become much more resilient to drought, other unfavourable weather events, and of course climate change.
We now need to get building the enclosure that will become home to these beavers! We are hoping to release them in the spring of 2020.
We will keep you updated on our progress. Follow us on Instagram or subscribe to our newsletter if you have not already!