The Wildlife Trust appeal to return beavers to county after 400 year absence

Plans are moving forward to reintroduce beavers to Northamptonshire, and the Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs and Northants (WTBCN) is launching an appeal, looking for £73,982 to help fundraise for all the preparations involved.

The Trust have identified Delta Pit at Nene Wetlands nature reserve as the ideal place for the beavers to call home. Under licence from Natural England, beavers need to be released into enclosed spaces, and this area requires being made secure – 1,650 metres of fencing will need to be installed. The reserve is adjacent to the Rushden Lakes shopping centre which sees millions of visitors each year, so as well as the physical work on the ground to get the site ready, the project will seek to engage and inspire the public with the story of the beavers’ return.

Curated interpretation boards will be created, as well as educational information packs. Specialist trail cameras will be also installed to monitor the animals’ progress once they arrive. The majority of the funding will come from Anglian Water’s Get River Positive initiative. The initiative is comprised of five key commitments all centred around improving river health across the East of England, as well as sharing data and embracing partnership working. The project will support the third commitment aimed specifically at creating new habitats allowing wildlife to thrive.

Matt Johnson, WTBCN Northants Conservation Manager says: “This is a hugely exciting opportunity to bring nature back to our region. Beavers are a native species which helped define wetland landscapes in this country for thousands of years.

“They are ecosystem engineers and bringing them back to the Nene Wetlands means they will help create a diverse habitat which will benefit a range of species. By supporting this appeal you can play your part in bringing the beavers back, and will be helping us inspire people with a story of hope. By sharing the beavers’ progress on trail cameras, in our visitor centre and in schools we can show everyone why nature is so amazing, and why it needs our support.

“We’re really grateful to Anglian Water for supporting this exciting project to bring this iconic species back to the Nene Valley and look forward to seeing the positive impact beavers have both on our nature reserve and its visitors.”

On behalf of landowners, The Crown Estate, Kerstin Fenelon, Asset Manager at The Crown Estate, says:

“We’re proud to be supporting this fantastic project to reintroduce beavers to Nene Valley. We hope this will not only create a variety of environmental benefits including re-establishing natural habitats but will also be something the whole community can get involved in, whether that’s helping to raise funds or simply enjoying watching these wonderful creatures make themselves at home.”

In such close proximity to Rushden Lakes shopping centre, this is an ideal opportunity to engage with a range of visitors: a wonderful way to inspire a wide audience about wildlife conservation and the bigger picture of nature restoration.

The impact of these charismatic mammals will prove of enormous benefit to the habitat and other wildlife species in and around Delta Pit – as keystone species they impact and define ecosystems in a positive way. Over time they will reduce scrub growth and manage the willows which in turn will increase the area of reedbed in the lake; a densely wooded area will give the beavers a safe place to retreat. The animals will be sourced via Beaver Trust and due to be on site autumn 2024.

Read more about the appeal here.