Wild beavers could soon be living in Ealing again, if plans to reintroduce them go ahead.
The Ealing Beaver Reintroduction Project wants to reintroduce Eurasian beavers in a controlled trial at Paradise Fields in North Greenford. A 10 hectare site has been identified as suitable for supporting beavers, and most of it would be enclosed, with provision for visitors to enter the landscape and hopefully catch a glimpse.
It would also be used by experts to study the animals, and learn how to manage beavers in such an environment, with focus on monitoring effects on water and flood levels.
Though beavers have a bit of a reputation for causing havoc with their dam-building exploits, they also have a positive effect on the ecosystem. Their gnawing on tree stems causes regrowth in species such as willow and hazel, which has knock-on benefits for birds and insects.
The reintroduction plans are still in the early stages. As of March 2022, the Ealing Beaver Reintroduction Project has published a statement of intention, which also features a public consultation, with locals and regular visitors to Paradise Fields invited to share their feedback and any concerns.
It is a joint project between Ealing Wildlife Group, Ealing Council, Citizen Zoo and Friends of Horsenden Hill, supported by experts at the Beaver Trust. Ealing Council has agreed to provide ranger support and partial financial backing.
The next stage will be for the project to apply for a license from Natural England, and further funding will be needed to complete the project, if this license is granted.
The Eurasian beaver used to be widespread across England, Scotland and Wales, but was largely wiped out when they were hunted for their meat and fur. You can find out more about the controlled reintroduction of beavers in the UK on the RSPB website.