This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Information regarding trial reintroduction of beavers into Scotland'.



TABLE OF CONTENTS 
1. 
Executive summary ........................................................................................................ 4 
2. 
Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 6 
3. 
Consultation process ...................................................................................................... 6 
3.1 
Target groups ........................................................................................................ 6 
3.2 
Methods of consultation ........................................................................................ 7 
3.2.1 
Face-to-face meetings .......................................................................................... 7 
3.2.2 
Events and presentations...................................................................................... 7 
3.2.3 
Letters and mailings .............................................................................................. 8 
3.2.4 
Exhibitions ............................................................................................................. 8 
3.2.5 
Mini displays.......................................................................................................... 8 
3.2.6 
Media relations and advertising ............................................................................ 8 
3.2.7 
Websites................................................................................................................ 8 
3.2.8 
Response to further information............................................................................ 8 
3.3 
Consultation criteria .............................................................................................. 8 
3.3.1 
Ineligible ................................................................................................................ 8 
3.3.2 
Definition of Mid-Argyll .......................................................................................... 8 
3.3.3 
Definition of Knapdale ........................................................................................... 8 
3.3.4 
Definition of Knapdale neighbouring landowners.................................................. 9 
3.3.5 
Void ....................................................................................................................... 9 
3.3.6 
Multiples at one address ....................................................................................... 9 
4. 
Summary of feedback................................................................................................... 10 
4.1 
Overview ............................................................................................................. 10 
4.1.1 
Public................................................................................................................... 10 
4.1.1.1 
Event attendance ...................................................................................... 10 
4.1.1.2 
Mid-Argyll responses ................................................................................ 11 
4.1.1.3 
Knapdale residents ................................................................................... 12 
4.1.1.4 
Neighbouring landowners or residents to the proposed trial site.............. 13 
4.1.1.5 
Responses outwith Mid-Argyll .................................................................. 15 
4.1.1.6 
Analysis of public consultation responses ................................................ 16 
4.1.2 
Organisations ...................................................................................................... 16 
4.1.3 
Argyll & Bute Council .......................................................................................... 17 
4.1.4 
Argyll Bird Club ................................................................................................... 17 
4.1.5 
Argyll District Salmon Fisheries Board................................................................ 18 
4.1.6 
Argyll Fisheries Trust .......................................................................................... 18 
4.1.7 
Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) .................................................. 18 
4.1.8 
Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA).............................................. 18 
4.1.9 
British Waterways (BW) ...................................................................................... 18 
4.1.10 
Confederation of Forest Industries (ConFor) ................................................. 18 
4.1.11 
National Farmer’s Union Scotland (NFUS).................................................... 18 
4.1.12 
Ramblers’ Association Scotland .................................................................... 18 
4.1.13 
RSPB Scotland .............................................................................................. 19 
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4.1.14 
Scottish Rural Properties and Businesses Association (SRPBA) ................. 19 
4.1.15 
Scottish Water................................................................................................ 19 
4.1.16 
Scottish Environmental Protection Agency .................................................... 19 
4.1.17 
Wild Scotland ................................................................................................. 19 
4.1.18 
Woodland Trust for Scotland ......................................................................... 19 
5. 
Conclusions and wider considerations ......................................................................... 19 
6. 
References.................................................................................................................... 20 
7. 
Appendices ................................................................................................................... 21 
7.1 
Appendix A: Consultation meetings .................................................................... 21 
7.2 
Appendix A: Organisations notified/consulted .................................................... 23 
7.3 
Appendix B: Letter sent to SWT members.......................................................... 25 
7.4 
Appendix B: Letter sent to stakeholders ............................................................. 26 
7.5 
Appendix B: Letter sent to national organisations .............................................. 27 
7.6 
Appendix B: Information letter with posters sent to community hotspots ........... 28 
7.7 
Appendix C: Community “hotspots” .................................................................... 29 
7.8 
Appendix D: Promotion of events and consultation ............................................ 30 
7.8.1 
Advert .................................................................................................................. 30 
7.8.2 
Poster .................................................................................................................. 31 
7.8.3 
Consultation leaflet.............................................................................................. 32 
7.8.4 
Project press releases......................................................................................... 33 
7.8.4.1 
Launch of new consultation on Scottish beaver reintroduction ................ 33 
7.8.4.2 
Argyll communities invited to find out more about beaver plans .............. 35 
7.8.4.3 
Beaver events a success .......................................................................... 37 
7.8.4.4 
Last chance for views on beaver reintroduction plans.............................. 39 
7.9 
Appendix E: Media coverage: ............................................................................. 41 
7.9.1 
Print coverage ..................................................................................................... 41 
7.9.2 
Radio and TV coverage ...................................................................................... 42 
7.10 
Appendix F: Sample letters ................................................................................. 45 
7.10.1 
Acknowledgement of response...................................................................... 45 
7.10.2 
Further information required .......................................................................... 46 
7.10.3 
Residents/landowners in the immediate vicinity of the trial site..................... 51 
7.11 
Appendix G: Summary of concerns from stakeholder information meeting ....... 52 
7.11.1 
Attendance list................................................................................................ 52 
7.11.2 
Issues raised .................................................................................................. 53 
7.12 
Appendix H: Example information sent in response to queries raised on 19 
October and at later meetings.............................................................................................. 55 
7.13 
Appendix I: Organisational responses ................................................................ 60 
7.13.1 
ORG1/8 Argyll & Bute Council ....................................................................... 60 
7.13.2 
ORGP1/1 Argyll Bird Club.............................................................................. 62 
7.13.3 
ORGE2/14 Argyll District Salmon Fishery Board........................................... 63 
7.13.4 
ORG1/2 Argyll Fisheries Trust ....................................................................... 68 
 
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7.13.5 
ORG1/6 Association of Salmon Fishery Boards............................................ 71 
7.13.6 
ORG1/12 Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions ..................................... 75 
7.13.7 
ORG1/2 British Waterways ............................................................................ 76 
7.13.8 
ORG1/2 Confederation of Forest Industries .................................................. 80 
7.13.9 
ORGE2/4 NFU Scotland ................................................................................ 85 
7.13.10 
ORGP1/13 Ramblers’ Scotland ..................................................................... 88 
7.13.11 
ORGP1/5 RSPB............................................................................................. 89 
7.13.12 
ORGP1/7 SRPBA .......................................................................................... 90 
7.13.13 
ORGP1/11 Scottish Water ............................................................................. 93 
7.13.14 
ORGE2/13 SEPA ........................................................................................... 94 
7.13.15 
ORGE2/12 Wild Scotland .............................................................................. 97 
7.13.16 
ORGP1/9 Woodland Trust ............................................................................. 99 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1. Executive 
summary 
In January 2007, the Scottish Government in partnership with its conservation advisors, 
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), launched the Species Action Framework (SAF).1 This 
framework provides a strategic approach to species management in Scotland and identifies 
certain species requiring targeted management and action. Two reintroductions are included: 
white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) and European beaver (Castor fiber). 
 
Through SAF, organisations outwith SNH are encouraged to lead on individual species 
action. In July 2007, the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and the Royal Zoological Society of 
Scotland (RZSS) agreed to work in partnership to secure the future reintroduction of the 
European beaver to Scotland. 
 
In October 2007, under the project title of the Scottish Beaver Trial, the partnership with 
support from the Mammals Trust UK launched a two-month local consultation in the vicinity of 
the preferred trial site of Knapdale Forest, Mid-Argyll. 
 
The consultation built on national and local consultations undertaken in 19982 and 20003 prior 
to the previous licence application and as part of the SAF. The consultation process is a key 
element of IUCN Reintroduction Guidelines. 
 
Over 175 people attended events held in the area during the consultation period. A further 
466 people submitted a formal response to the consultation by post or online. 
As part of the consultation process, two key questions were posed to those consulted: 
1.  Would you like to see beavers in Scotland? 
2.  Would you support a trial reintroduction of beavers to Knapdale? 
In addition, respondents were given the opportunity to write comments/questions on their 
consultation response. 
 
From the responses received from Mid-Argyll, 72% were in favour of beavers returning to 
Scotland and 73% were in favour of beavers returning to Knapdale Forest. Out of the 466 
responses, over 80% were defined as resident in Mid-Argyll (with postcodes PA29, PA30 and 
PA31). 
 
The Knapdale segment (those living in Tayvallich, Achnamara, Crinan, Bellanoch and 
Cairnbaan) contained the strongest opposition (31 negative responses) proportionally. This 
included 20% of landowners recorded as being adjacent to the proposed trial site. 
Seven (9%) national/local organisations out of 80 contacted raised “key concerns” and 
objections. 
 
The majority of comments from those in favour of the trial related to benefits to biodiversity 
and wildlife tourism and a desire to see the reinstatement of the beaver in Scotland. 
Comments from those against the trial covered a wide range of concerns and perceptions 
including environmental and socio-economic impact, public health, containment, length of 
trial, historical evidence of previous range, consultation process, insurance and 
compensation, the presence of non-native introductions of species such as mink and the best 
use of resources. 
 
The overall results reaffirmed the conclusions of previous consultations that there is 
widespread local public support for a trial reintroduction of the European beaver in Knapdale. 
The project partners were particularly encouraged by the number of consultation responses, 
which exceeded those received in the earlier local consultation (63).  
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The majority of issues relating to the conduct of the trial will be addressed in the licence 
application and/or will form part of the research and monitoring aims of the trial itself. The 
project partners consider that the level of support is sufficient to justify proceeding with the 
trial. 
 
The consultation reinforces the continued requirement to involve the local community and 
other stakeholders in the development and implementation of the project; mechanisms for this 
will be included in the licence application. Project staff will endeavour to achieve constructive 
relationships with all national stakeholder bodies with a view to ensuring that the proposed 
trial benefits from their experience and input. 
 
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2. Introduction 
Directive 92/43/EEC Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Flora and Fauna (the 
Habitats Directive) Article 22
 makes provision for member states to consider reintroduction of 
species in Annex IV, including the European beaver. Article 22 states that it should take place 
“only after proper consultation of the public concerned”. 
 
SNH carried out a national consultation in 1998 on the desirability of reintroducing beavers to 
Scotland and the results showed that 63% of respondents were in favour of a reintroduction. 
In response to the detailed feedback, the SNH Main Board decided to propose a trial 
reintroduction in a specific area over a time-limited period rather than undertake a widespread 
release. After a detailed review in 2000, Knapdale Forest in Mid-Argyll was selected as the 
most appropriate site for the trial. 
In October and November 2000 a consultation in the local Knapdale area was carried out by 
SNH. Sixty-four percent of respondents from the Mid-Argyll area were in favour of the 
proposal. 
 
Subsequent to the rejection of SNH’s application to the Scottish Government for a licence to 
run a trial beaver reintroduction, the Scottish Government joined with SNH, its conservation 
advisors, to launch the SAF. This framework provides a strategic approach to species 
management in Scotland and identifies certain species requiring targeted management and 
action. Two reintroductions were included: white-tailed eagle and European beaver. 
 
Through SAF, organisations outwith SNH were encouraged to lead on individual species 
action. In July 2007, SWT and RZSS agreed to work in partnership to secure a trial 
reintroduction of the European beaver to Scotland. 
 
In October 2007, under the project title of the Scottish Beaver Trial, SWT and RZSS, with 
support from the Mammals Trust UK, launched a two-month local consultation in the vicinity 
of the preferred trial site of Knapdale Forest, Mid-Argyll.  The consultation built on national 
and local consultations undertaken as part of the previous licence application and the 
additional 2006 national consultation on the SAF. The consultation process is a key element 
of IUCN Reintroduction Guidelines and, as part of the SAF, any reintroduction must go 
through this process. To the best of SWT’s knowledge this is the most comprehensively 
consulted and researched species reintroduction proposal undertaken in Europe to date. 
3. Consultation 
process 
The consultation was undertaken over an eight week period (1 October – 30 November 
2007). Given the extent and breadth of previously conduced national consultations it was 
concluded that a local consultation (Mid-Argyll) was most appropriate, specifically to: 
•  re-validate the previous consultation(s); 
•  engage the community with the proposal and provide a process to respond to questions 
and concerns; 
•  engage local and national organisations with a direct interest in the proposal; 
•  seek feedback on the proposal to inform the licence application and; 
•  raise general awareness of the project. 
3.1 Target 
groups 
•  Local residents within postcodes PA29, PA30 and PA31 
•  Individual landowners/managers adjacent to the trial site and in the Knapdale area 
 
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• Community 
Councils 
•  Representatives of local, area and national bodies/organisations whose interests might be 
affected 
Table 1: Stakeholder coverage 
Who? How? 
Local residents 
Leaflet mail drop, public drop-in day, leaflet and poster 
distribution to community hotspots 
Landowners/managers adjacent to the site 
Leaflet mail drop, invite to stakeholders’ presentation or 
individual meeting 
Community Councils 
Stakeholders’ information event, public drop-in day, 
opportunity for presentation/meeting 
Representatives from organisations with local  Stakeholders’ information event, informal and formal 
interests 
meetings 
National organisations with an interest in the 
Letters, informal and formal meetings 
trial or the region 
 
Postal responses were sent to the Forestry Commission Scotland offices at Lochgilphead and 
forwarded to SWT for data collation. Online responses were received through SWT and 
RZSS websites. 
 
As part of the consultation process, two key questions were posed to those consulted: 
1. 
Would you like to see beavers in Scotland? 
2. 
Would you support a trial reintroduction of beavers to Knapdale? 
In addition, respondents were given the opportunity to write comments/questions on their 
consultation response.  
3.2  Methods of consultation 
3.2.1 Face-to-face 
meetings 
A series of informal and formal meetings with different stakeholders and members of the 
project team (see Appendix A) was organised. These meetings included those opposed to the 
project as well as those near the trial site. Landowners/land managers adjacent to the 
proposed trial site and organisations which sought further clarification on the proposals were 
offered face-to-face meetings. 
3.2.2  Events and presentations 
SWT’s Members Centre for Lorn and Mid-Argyll hosted a public event about the project at 
Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory in Oban on 18 October. 
 
A stakeholders’ information event was held on 19 October at the Cairnbaan Hotel, 
Lochgilphead for some local landowners and organisations with an interest in the trial. 
 
An informal public open day event was held on 20 October (10am – 5pm) at the Cairnbaan 
Hotel, Lochgilphead. The open day was widely publicised and people were encouraged to 
come and find out about the project, to discuss the proposals with the project staff, and to 
complete a consultation response. 
 
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3.2.3  Letters and mailings 
Letters were sent to a range of national bodies with regional or organisational interests (see 
Appendix B) informing them about the trial and the method of responding to the consultation 
(see Appendix C). Information was made available to regional offices and local staff invited to 
attend the stakeholders’ information event on 19 October. 
 
Letters with consultation leaflets and posters (see Appendix E) were sent to “community 
hotspots” (see Appendix D) including schools, post offices and leisure centres to help raise 
awareness and encourage attendance at the drop-in day. 
 
The consultation leaflet, which also contained details of the public events being held, was 
posted to 2,897 households in the PA29, PA30 and PA31 areas (7% were returned as bad 
addresses).  
3.2.4 Exhibitions 
A manned display was positioned at the Co-op supermarket in Lochgilphead for four days (21 
– 24 October 2007). The public was encouraged to ask questions and submit their 
consultation responses. 
3.2.5 Mini 
displays 
Posters and leaflets were sent to community “hotspots” highlighting the project and 
forthcoming public events. 
3.2.6  Media relations and advertising 
To coincide with the launch of the consultation, local and national press releases were issued 
giving details of the proposal as well as dates and times of the events (Appendix F). 
 
An advert was placed in the Oban Times on 11 October and the events were publicised in 
mailings to SWT and RZSS members. 
3.2.7 Websites 
Information on the trial, including a question and answer brief, was made available on both 
SWT and RZSS websites and included the ability to submit the consultation response form 
online. The Q & A brief was developed in response to queries and issues raised during the 
consultation. 
3.2.8  Response to further information 
Responses were made to those who requested further information (by email or letter) during 
the course of the consultation. The number of written responses totalled approximately 400. 
3.3 Consultation criteria 
3.3.1 Ineligible 
SWT and RZSS staff and their families. 
Members of the Beaver Steering Group. 
3.3.2 Definition 
of 
Mid-Argyll 
Those within PA29, PA30 and PA31 postcodes. 
3.3.3 Definition 
of 
Knapdale 
Defined by addresses in Tayvallich, Achnamara, Crinan, Bellanoch and Cairnbaan. 
 
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3.3.4 Definition 
of 
Knapdale neighbouring landowners 
With one or more land boundaries onto Knapdale Forest. 
3.3.5 Void 
Letters without a completed consultation form or without a direct response to the two key 
questions. 
No address or name supplied, or no specific answer to one or more of the questions. 
3.3.6  Multiples at one address 
When two or more names on the form were from the same address, responses were counted 
separately i.e. one response per named person per address. 
 
Every consultation response received was acknowledged either by email or letter (see 
Appendix G). 
 
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4. 
Summary of feedback 
4.1 Overview 
The project partners (SWT and RZSS) received an encouraging response to the consultation 
and the associated events. Out of 466 responses submitted by post or online, 374 were 
received from the Mid-Argyll area and 92 outwith Mid-Argyll. An additional eight responses 
were declared void due to duplication or incomplete information. Fifty-six confirmed they were 
either a member of SWT or RZSS. The number of responses was seven times higher than 
the previous local consultation. 
4.1.1 Public 
4.1.1.1 Event 
attendance 
Public events on 18 and 20 October 
 
 
Date Location 
Attendance 
Members Centre event (7.30 – 9pm) 
18 October 
Oban 
100 
Public drop in day (10am – 5pm) 
20 October 
Cairnbaan 
75 (estimated) 
 
At the events, the project team was available to answer questions and discuss the project. 
People were encouraged to complete the consultation forms which were available. At both 
events support for the project outweighed objections; a trend that was reflected in the overall 
responses received formally (see details on the next page). 
 
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4.1.1.6 
Analysis of public consultation responses 
A significant majority of Mid-Argyll respondents (over 73%) were in favour of beavers being 
reintroduced to Knapdale and just over 2% were against the trial. Closer to the trial site views 
were more mixed. 
 
Those in favour of the trial tended not to provide detailed comments supporting their 
preference; however, the comments received are summarised below. 
 
Table 10: Analysis of positive Mid-Argyll public responses 
Reason Number 
Details 
Good for biodiversity  
25 
Enhance species diversity and wetland creation
Moral obligation   
15 
Extinct due to man, other countries have 
already reintroduced successfully 
Good for wildlife tourism  
16 
Good for jobs, economy and tourism 
 
 
Table 11: Analysis of the top 10 negative Mid-Argyll public responses 
Most people who objected provided one or more specific reasons, summarised below. 
 
Reason Number 
Details 
Beaver reintroduction 
40 
Outright objection – no supporting evidence given  
Resources 
18 
Money and effort better spent elsewhere  
Existing wildlife/habitats 
10 
Potential negative impact on existing species and 
habitats, keystone species and interference with 
the current natural processes not required  
Other introductions 

Would cause similar problems to those resulting 
from invasive non-native species such as mink, 
Rhododendron ponticum and grey squirrel  
Not native 

No data to prove beavers lived in Argyll and 
differences in the countryside since beavers were 
resident  
Health risks 

Concerns with of disease transmission including 
Giardia  
Access restrictions and 

Concerns about possible access restrictions to and 
suitability of site 
on the site. Knapdale not suitable or doesn’t have 
infrastructure to support the trial.  
Flooding/water supplies 

Effect on water levels, drinking water and potential 
flooding  
Consultation  

Process, need for more research or confidence in 
project  
Salmon/fishing 

Potential risk of damage to salmon, impact on 
migration/spawning  
4.1.2 Organisations 
At the stakeholders’ information event on 19 October, 52 individuals including some local 
landowners, local groups and national bodies with regional interests, were invited to attend. 
 
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Neighbouring landowners who were not invited to the event were sent letters inviting them to 
speak in person to project staff.  
 
Twenty-one attended. The meeting was dominated by those who were not in favour of the 
proposal and a range of issues to be considered in the licence proposal were highlighted (see 
Appendix G). Those who raised specific issues received, in writing, more information or 
clarification about certain aspects of the trial (see Appendix H). 
 
Table 12: Summary of responses from organisations 
Organisation View 
Argyll & Bute Council 
Supportive 
Argyll Bird Club 
Supportive 
Argyll District Salmon Fishery Board 
Has concerns and would require safeguards to 
be put in place, supports AFT position 
 
Argyll Fisheries Trust (AFT) 
Has concerns and would require safeguards to 
be put in place 
Association of Salmon Fishery Boards 
Against and require clarification on issues 
raised 
Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions 
Supportive 
British Waterways 
Against and require clarification on issues 
raised 
Confederation of Forest Industries 
Against 
National Union of Farmers Scotland (NFUS) 
Has major concerns, wants clear exit strategy 
and safeguards in place 
Ramblers Scotland 
Supportive 
RSPB Supportive 
Scottish Environmental Protection Agency 
Has concerns and would require safeguards to 
be put in place  
Scottish Rural Properties and Businesses 
Against 
Association 
Scottish Water  
Has concerns (particularly post-trial) and would 
require safeguards to be put in place 
Wild Scotland  
Supportive  
Woodland Trust Scotland 
Supportive  
4.1.3  Argyll & Bute Council 
The Council recognises the potential benefit to the local economy and community and the 
potential to extend the biodiversity of Argyll. The Council has undertaken extensive sampling 
of water courses and water supplies within the release area which will help to serve to inform 
outcomes of the trial. The Council’s Depute Leader, Councillor Robert MacIntyre, and 
Members of the local Area Committee all agreed that this would represent a positive benefit to 
the community. 
4.1.4  Argyll Bird Club 
At the AGM of the Argyll Bird Club (a community organisation constituted in 1985) held on 10 
November 2007, discussion was held regarding the trial re-introduction of the European 
 
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beaver to Knapdale. The motion was strongly supported by the membership with request 
being made to write a collective response on behalf of the club. 
4.1.5  Argyll District Salmon Fisheries Board 
The Argyll DSFB works closely with the Argyll Fisheries Trust (AFT) which acts as its 
scientific advisor. The AFT has predicted the likely effects of beaver activity to be significant 
changes in riverine habitat characteristics and profound and significant impacts on fish and 
fisheries. Constant monitoring will be needed throughout this trial to assess the implications 
for fish and their environment, including riparian habitat. It is the Board’s view that the AFT 
should be the lead body in making this assessment however it will require significant 
resources which should be factored in to the project costs. 
4.1.6  Argyll Fisheries Trust 
Concern expressed about impact on freshwater fish populations both within trial site area 
(limited impact for proper assessment) and should further reintroductions take place in other 
areas. Primary concerns relate to changes to riverine habitat characteristics and distribution 
of salmonid and other native fish that could in the long term change the distribution and 
productivity of a number of native fish species. 
4.1.7  Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) 
ASFB raised concerns in relation to fish passage issues, habitat modification, environmental 
impact assessment, biosecurity and exit strategy. They felt unable to support the proposal 
without further clarification about certain aspects of the trial. 
4.1.8  Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) 
Recognises the potential benefit to rural economies as well as biodiversity. Beavers can only 
enhance Scotland’s wildlife tourism product. 
4.1.9  British Waterways (BW) 
Despite being content with the previous SNH proposal in 2000, BW felt unable to support the 
proposal. BW’s main concerns are with assessments of the risks to all potentially affected 
parties, proposed mitigation measures and residual risks following their implementation. They 
also stated concerns about the impact on canal structural integrity. 
4.1.10 Confederation of Forest Industries (ConFor) 
Objected to original application by SNH and continues to uphold this view. Consultation purely 
conducted on a local level whereas ConFor feels this is a national issue. Trial site is not a 
closed catchment. Application turned down previously on a number of grounds and not aware 
that any of these reasons have changed. Impact of other “introductions” and precautionary 
principle should be applied. 
4.1.11 National Farmer’s Union Scotland (NFUS)  
NFUS was concerned about the economic interests of land managers who may be affected 
by the proposal and compensation must be made available to support these claims should 
the proposal go ahead. They felt that the beaver would be reintroduced to a “changed” 
environment after a 400-year absence. The proposal may have an adverse impact on other 
species, habitat and water environment. Should the proposal go ahead, a fully agreed and 
practical exit strategy/contingency arrangement must be put in place before approval. 
4.1.12 Ramblers’ Association Scotland 
In principle, Ramblers’ Scotland supports the concept of reintroduction of species to the 
Scottish countryside provided that this does not have a significant adverse impact on the 
natural heritage or public enjoyment of the outdoors. It must be carried out in accordance with 
IUCN guidelines, with the aim of establishing a viable self-sustaining population of beavers. 
 
© Scottish Beaver Trial 2007 
 
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4.1.13 RSPB Scotland 
RSPB Scotland has been involved with successful and popular reintroduction projects for red 
kites and sea eagles and believes reintroductions can be a valuable conservation tool. They 
believe the beaver is a clear candidate species for a Scottish reintroduction project and are 
fully supportive of a well-mounted and controlled trial. 
4.1.14 Scottish Rural Properties and Businesses Association (SRPBA) 
Introductions into the modern environment will necessarily impact negatively on a range of 
current land uses and practices. There will be potential negative effects on Knapdale Woods, 
which is a Special Area of Conservation. The protection afforded to Castor fiber under the EU 
law would render the SNH ”Exit Strategy” either illegal or unenforceable. The period of the 
trial is inadequate to validate. 
4.1.15 Scottish Water 
Any controlled re-introduction of beavers needs to consider the potential impacts on public 
health and in particular the quality of drinking water sources. Scottish Water considers that 
monitoring of drinking water sources against a baseline level should be considered as part of 
the study to determine whether there are detrimental effects on water quality. In addition 
Scottish Water has concerns over the activity of beavers in affecting natural water flows in 
upland waters which may have a detrimental effect on water availability. These issues would 
be of particular concern if the trial was deemed a success and resulted in the proliferation of 
beavers across suitable habitats in Scotland. 
4.1.16 Scottish Environmental Protection Agency  
SEPA recognises the potential benefits of introducing the European beaver to Scotland’s 
rivers and wetlands as an agent of biological diversification through, for example, storage of 
sediments, removal of nutrients and the introduction of woody debris. 
There are, however, a number of uncertainties over the potential effects of beaver re-
introduction which SEPA believes it would be wise to address before any decision is made 
about whether to re-introduce the species to an area of Scotland.  SEPA does not, however, 
oppose the principle of reintroducing the European beaver to Scotland provided that the 
effects are closely monitored and that appropriate control measures would be implemented 
where evidence becomes apparent of significant undesirable impacts on, for example, 
hydrology or hydromorphology, natural heritage interests or riparian woodlands. 
4.1.17 Wild Scotland 
Watching wildlife is an important component of the visitor experience to Scotland and Wild 
Scotland actively encourages positive developments that provide wildlife viewing 
opportunities to visitors. Such developments should also provide opportunities for businesses, 
minimise disturbance to wildlife, and demonstrate and promote responsible wildlife watching. 
 
The introduction of any species into the Scottish environment is a significant issue. It is 
therefore essential that any managed trial prior to re-introduction is carefully monitored and 
robust data gathered before any final decisions are taken.  
4.1.18 Woodland Trust for Scotland 
Supports this proposal as long as IUCN reintroduction guidelines are followed and that 
populations will be self-sustained with the need for prescriptive management of habitats for 
beavers. Should be seen as part of riparian restoration because beavers are architects of the 
wetlands and drivers of wetland natural processes. 
5. 
Conclusions and wider considerations 
The overall results of the (fourth) consultation reaffirm that there is widespread local public 
support for a trial reintroduction of the European beaver in Knapdale (346 positive responses 
- 79% of these were from respondents in Mid-Argyll), and the project partners are encouraged 
 
© Scottish Beaver Trial 2007 
 
Page 19  of 100
 
 
 
 

 
by the number of consultation responses (466), which exceeded those received in the earlier 
local consultation.  
 
The majority of issues raised by respondents relating to the conduct of the trial will be 
addressed in the licence application and will form part of the research and monitoring of the 
trial itself. The project partners consider that the level of support is sufficient to justify 
proceeding with the trial and are grateful to all those who took the trouble and time to respond 
and for highlighting a wide range of issues. 
 
The development and implementation of the project will continue to involve the local 
community and stakeholders, and mechanisms for this will be included in the licence 
application. Project staff will endeavour to achieve constructive relationships with all national 
stakeholder bodies with a view to ensuring that the proposed trial benefits from their 
experience and input. 
6. References 
 
1 Scottish Natural Heritage (2007). Species Action Framework. A Five-Year Species Action 
Framework: Making a difference for Scotland's Species.
 Edinburgh: Scottish Natural Heritage. 
2 Scottish Natural Heritage (1998). Research Survey & Monitoring Series No 121: Re-
introduction of the European Beaver to Scotland: results of a public consultation. 
Edinburgh: 
Scott Porter Research & Marketing. 
3 Scottish Natural Heritage (2001). Appendix 2; Proposed trial reintroductions of beaver to 
Knapdale: Report on local consultation
. Edinburgh: Scottish Natural Heritage. 
 
© Scottish Beaver Trial 2007 
 
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Application to Scottish Executive by Scottish Natural Heritage for a 
licence under section 16(4) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 
1981, as amended, to release European beaver, Castor fiber, for a 
trial re-introduction in Knapdale, Argyll: 
 
RESPONSE TO THE MINISTER’S LETTER OF 20 DECEMBER 2002 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Scottish Natural Heritage  
January 2005 

Contents 
 
1. STRUCTURE OF THE DOCUMENT 
 
2. THE TRIAL  
2.1 The Need for a Trial 
2.2 The Choice of Trial Site 
 
3. EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE OF BEAVER REINTRODUCTION 
3.1  Introduction 
3.2  The Danish Experience – A Trial Reintroduction 
3.3  The Dutch Experience – A Full Reintroduction 
3.4  The Brittany Experience – A Local Reintroduction 
3.5  The Belgium Experience – Unofficial Reintroductions 
3.6  Summary 
 
4. ARTICLE 22a 
4.1  Introduction
 
4.2  The SNH Approach to Addressing Article 22a - A Trial Reintroduction 
4.3  Favourable Conservation Status 
4.3.1 European Context 
4.3.2 Contribution to Favourable Conservation Status
 
4.4  Proper Consultation of the Public 
4.4.1  The National Consultation
 
4.4.2  The Local Consultation 
4.4.3  Survey by the Argyll and Bute Community Planning Partnership 

Citizen’s Panel 
4.4.4  Scotecon Study 
4.4.5  Summary 
 
5. BIODIVERSITY AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS 
 
6. AGRICULTURE 
6.1  General Assessment 
6.2  European Experience: Agriculture and Beavers 
 
7. FORESTRY 
 
8. SALMON 
8.1  General Overview 
8.2  Specific Experience 
 
9 PUBLIC HEALTH 
9.1  Giardia and Cryptosporidium 
9.2  Bites to Humans 
 
10. MANAGEMENT OF THE TRIAL BY SNH 
 
11. INTERPRETATION AND EDUCATION 
 
 
 2 

12.  EXTERNAL FUNDING 
12.1  Background 
12.2  Likelihood of support 

 
 3 

1. STRUCTURE OF THE DOCUMENT 
 
This document provides further background to the SNH proposal for a trial 
reintroduction to Knapdale. Section 2 provides general background information and 
emphasises that the licence application is for a trial reintroduction rather than a full 
reintroduction. Section 3 provides some information on experiences of different types 
of reintroduction in a selection of other European countries (more information on the 
European experience is provided throughout the remaining document). The rest of 
the document addresses the more specific points raised in the letter of 20/12/02 to 
John Markland, in particular the requirements of Article 22(a) of the Habitats 
Directive, the potential effect of beavers on biodiversity, the potential effects on 
agriculture, forestry and salmon interests, public health issues, financing and 
management of the trial, interpretation and education. 
 
2. THE TRIAL 
 
2.1 The Need For A Trial 
It should be re-iterated that our proposal is for a trial reintroduction and not for a full-
scale reintroduction of the European beaver to Scotland. The clear difference 
between the proposed trial and any form of full reintroduction is that animals will be 
quickly removed if the need arises. An exit strategy is a fundamental part of the 
project plan. This exit strategy can be operated either during the trial, or at the end of 
the trial, if a decision is made not to proceed with any further work (see the licence 
application for details of the  exit strategy). This trial approach will allow us to 
investigate how beavers interact with the Scottish environment, and was developed 
in response to the outcome of the national consultation process undertaken by SNH 
in 1998 (public consultation is recommended under Article 22(a) of the EC ‘Habitats 
Directive’. A further local consultation was also undertaken and a report published in 
2001, see Appendix 2). 
 
Although there was a substantial majority of consultees in favour of reintroducing the 
European beaver to Scotland, and studies indicated that the effects land uses were 
not significant, it was clear that a small number of individuals and interest groups 
held strong reservations.  Accordingly, it was felt the best way to take forward the 
idea of reintroducing beavers and take account of the concerns which had been 
raised was to undertake a scientific trial.  Apart from the case of Denmark (see 
below), this is a significantly more measured approach than that taken in other 
European countries where the pattern has been simply to release animals fully back 
into the wild (i.e. a ‘full’ reintroduction) with either limited or no further study. 
 
The trial at Knapdale would involve an investigation of: 
•  The effect of beavers on; 
-  Riparian habitats (particularly woodland) 
-  Aquatic macrophytes and macrophyte communities 
-  Freshwater fish in standing waters and burns 
-  Freshwater invertebrates 
-  Species of conservation interest (e.g. otter, water vole, dragonfly 
species) 
-  Natura qualifying interests 
-  Biodiversity  
 
 4 

-  Water chemistry 
-  Channel geomorphology 
-  Hydrology  
-  Forestry woodland and associated management operations 
-  Water quality in terms of public health 
•  Beaver ecology and behaviour in a Scottish environment, for example; 
-  Population dynamics  
-  Territory size 
-  Movement and dispersal 
-  Food selection 
-  The testing of predictive population models to estimate population 
change over time 
 
The information will help to determine any effect of beavers on the Scottish 
environment and, taken together with information and experience from elsewhere in 
Europe, will significantly help to inform any future decision as to whether a 
reintroduction of beavers should take place in Scotland.  
 
It should be noted that the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity states in Article 9 
that  ‘Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate, and 
predominantly for the purpose of complementing in-situ measures:..(c) Adopt 
measures for the recovery and rehabilitation of threatened species and for their 
reintroduction into their natural habitats under appropriate conditions’.
  Furthermore, 
Article 8 states ‘Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as 
appropriate:..(d) Promote the protection of ecosystems, natural habitats and the 
maintenance of viable populations of species in natural surroundings; (f) Rehabilitate 
and restore degraded ecosystems and promote the recovery of threatened species, 
inter alia, through the development and implementation of plans or other 
management strategies.’ 
We believe the proposed trial will contribute towards 
addressing these requirements.  
 
2.2  The Choice of Trial Site 
The choice of the trial site at Knapdale followed a wider analysis of site suitability 
and an offer by the Forestry Commission (FC) to host the trial on one of their land 
holdings if a suitable site could be identified. Both SNH and FC considered that a 
vital element of a successful trial was the selection of a site which would allow 
relatively good natural ‘containment’ of the beaver population during the trial period. 
 
Knapdale was therefore selected as it provides relatively good natural containment 
for a trial population of beavers. It also has a number of other advantages (such as a 
mix of publically accessible and quieter areas within the trial area) as described in 
our original licence application, and provides  the opportunity to monitor a range of 
environmental factors. The effects of beaver activity on Forest Enterprise (FE) 
operations on site will also be monitored. It is anticipated by FE that beaver will 
provide a habitat management role and contribute towards FE’s aims of reducing 
scrub encroachment and pond succession. However, no site is perfect, and we are 
aware that the trial will provide limited direct information on the effect of beavers on 
intensive agriculture and on wild salmon in Scotland. What the trial will be able to 
provide though, is a range of information that will be applicable to these issues (e.g. 
the effects of beavers on riparian habitats and the forestry infrastructure are also 
 
 5 

relevant to these interests). We are also continuing to examine research in other 
countries in relation to beavers and salmon. 
 
3. EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE OF BEAVER REINTRODUCTION  
 
3.1  Introduction 
In responding to the specific points of your letter, we have included further relevant 
experience and information from other European countries here and in Section 4 
onwards. This supplements the information we have collated on European work in 
our SNH Research, Survey and Monitoring Reports and SNH Review Reports (a 
reference list is provided in the licence application), the 1998 Re-introduction of the 
European Beaver to Scotland: A Public Consultation
  document, and the January 
2002 licence application. We want to emphasise that, from the outset, SNH has 
carefully considered those beaver reintroduction projects, which have been, or are 
currently being, carried out across Europe. We have therefore benefited from the 
considerable experience which has already been built up (e.g. ecological methods 
for studying beaver and its habitat, beaver management  techniques, conservation 
issues, education and interpretation methods, information on the effects of beaver on 
land use and the environment etc.). However, it should be noted that the vast 
majority of other European countries have undertaken “full” reintroductions without 
detailed scientific monitoring, and so their work cannot always be directly compared 
with the scientific trial  reintroduction approach as proposed by SNH.  The main 
comparable work which has been carried out is from Denmark.  We are taking a 
more precautionary approach than the other European countries (even Denmark) 
which have reintroduced the beaver.   
 
There are now 24 European countries which have undertaken reintroductions, and 
there have been at least 157 recorded reintroductions outside the former Soviet 
Union (beaver were also extensively translocated within the former Soviet Union but 
details are not available).  Although we have provided a range of European 
examples throughout this document, the next four sub-sections give details  of four 
very different types of reintroduction; the Danish ‘trial’ reintroduction, the Dutch ‘full’ 
reintroduction, the Brittany reintroduction using animals from elsewhere in France, 
and the Belgium “unofficial”  reintroductions. We have concentrated on these four 
countries here as they are towards the western edge of the natural range of beaver 
(like Britain) and are some of our closest neighbouring EU countries which have 
undertaken reintroductions. The Danish, Dutch and Belgian cases are also among 
the most recent reintroductions, whereas the Brittany reintroduction was undertaken 
about 40 years ago. 
 
3.2  The Danish Experience – A Trial Reintroduction 
It is believed beavers became extinct in Denmark between one and two thousand 
years ago. The Danes decided on a reintroduction in order to restore beavers to their 
native fauna, and for the ability of beavers to ”manage” their habitat, which can 
benefit other species. The Danes looked at experience elsewhere, particularly in 
relation to any effects on land  uses (including information collated in the research 
and review reports produced by SNH during the 1990s). They concluded that there 
would be only minor localised  effects, such as some limited flooding. However they 
believed that any effects could be mitigated through a variety of mechanisms. 
 
 
 6 

A national beaver plan was drawn up which was subject to consultation and release 
sites were proposed. This was organised by the Danish Forest and Nature Agency.  
One of the sites was Klosterheden in west Jutland where a limited, local consultation 
was undertaken. During this process, a national fishery organisation raised concerns 
over a reintroduction. Therefore a scientifically monitored, time limited trial 
reintroduction was proposed and a release at Klosterheden  took place in October 
1999 with the trial ending in late 2003. The results of the trial were reported to the 
relevant Minister and in 2004 he granted permission for beavers to be retained in 
Denmark subject to certain conditions (e.g. that the Danish Forest and Nature 
Agency produce an appropriate management plan).  
 
The release site has some similarities with Knapdale, such as the fact that it is a 
working conifer plantation and is managed by the state forest service (within the 
Danish Forest and Nature Agency). However, the release site does not have good 
natural containment and lies at the upstream end of a river system. The landscape is 
more gently rolling than Knapdale. During 1999, 18 beavers were released at six 
localities within the forest. There was no attempt to confine them to a defined area, 
nor was any radio tracking used.  By autumn 2003 there was a minimum of 51 
animals, in 13 territories.  Five of the territories were in the forest, the remaining eight 
were on adjacent private farmland.  In 2003 one beaver was seen in a new river 
catchment some 25-30 km downstream from the reintroduction area.  
 
Monitoring was undertaken by NERI (Natural Environment Research Institute) at 
Klosterheden for; 
•  Beaver numbers, territories, diet 
•  Vegetation 
•  Otters 
•  Fish 
•  Freshwater invertebrates 
•  Amphibians 
•  Bats 
•  Birds 
•  Dead wood invertebrates  
•  Water chemistry 
•  Information on the effect of beaver activity on forestry, private owner and 
angler interests 
 
Results from the study (both published and reported to us in person by NERI staff) 
indicate;  
•  An overall positive effect of beaver on habitats and populations of aquatic 
invertebrates, dead wood insects, amphibians, breeding birds (especially 
water birds). Increase in suitable hunting grounds for Daubenton’s bats 
•  No observable conflict with otters (number of locations with evidence of otter 
presence has increased throughout the catchment) 
•  Localised reduction in willow scrub and, therefore, shading 
•  Temporal effects on sea trout movements and an assumption made that 
populations  may become isolated upstream of dams (salmon were not 
present at the site, but the researchers believe the species would not be 
affected in this way). The barrier effects of dams will constantly change as the 
 
 7 

formation of bypasses and lack of maintenance of the dams by the beavers is 
a dynamic process 
•  Minimal effects on populations of eel and brook lamprey expected based on 
results to date. Populations of certain fish species, such as roach and 
sticleback, may benefit from beaver ponds in longer term 
•  Relatively minor management problems on private land. Private landowners 
generally react positively to the presence of beavers. 
•  A large increase in numbers of visitors to the forest  
 
(see www2.dmu.dk/1_viden/2_Publikationer/3_fagrapporter/rapporter/FR489.pdf for 
full report) 
 
The state forest service has frequent contact with owners of private land where 
beavers have set up territories. Private land owners appear, on the whole, to be 
tolerant of minor localised flooding on agricultural land as the land in areas selected 
by the beavers tend to be undisturbed semi-natural bogs and fens and therefore wet 
already, difficult for tractors, and often only suitable for grazing. The raising of the 
water table affects relatively small areas immediately adjacent to the burns.  If there 
is no woody riparian vegetation, and therefore no suitable habitat, then beavers just 
pass through the areas. Any dams are in the vicinity of areas where woody materials 
are available. Beavers do not use intensively farmed land.  
 
At three sites where there has been a problem with dams flooding land, pipes have 
been placed in the dams to lower the water level (the use of pipe systems or ‘beaver 
deceivers’ is a standard method of controlling beaver pond water levels), and at 
another two sites the dams have been repeatedly removed.  A few clogged culverts 
under roads, and the inlet gate to a fish farm, have had to be cleared. Fencing 
material has been provided by the forest service to private owners to protect 
vulnerable trees. 
 
There have been guided tours within the forest for local and other people with 
increasing numbers of people attending the tours (e.g. there were >70 trips with a 
total of >2300 people on beaver tours in 2002 alone).  Even if beavers are not seen 
during tours, there are opportunities to see beaver signs such as pathways and 
footprints, scent points, grazed trees, dams, ponds, lodges and canals.  Trips are 
organised by both the forest service and privately. Viewing platforms are used in 
some locations to reduce disturbance.  
 
Beavers have contributed to the local economy through tourism.  Although the forest 
service has not promoted them widely, the local tourist association has publicised 
them. The forest service did not plan for visitors before the release, although release 
sites were selected where people may have a better chance of seeing animals.  
There is a small ‘hut’ containing informal beaver interpretation material in one of the 
main car parks by a beaver release site.  Another positive benefit identified by the 
forest  service has been “public health” with the presence of beavers encouraging 
people to visit the forest and therefore to exercise. 
 
The river habitats and otter population at Klosterheden have been put forward as 
qualifying interests for a cSAC . The cSAC proposal was made after the beavers had 
 
 8 

been released. The view of Danish Forest and Nature Agency is that the cSAC can 
be maintained in the presence of beavers.  
 
3.3 The Dutch Experience – A Full Reintroduction 
The reintroduction project is led by the Dutch Forestry Commission. There was a 
long period of consideration, c5 years, before the Dutch decided to reintroduce 
beavers. Dutch forestry staff examined the situation on the Elbe in Germany. They 
initially took journalists to see beaver sites and their effects to ensure that there was 
information in the Dutch media to help inform people. Forestry staff visited all the 
towns and villages in the proposed release areas to provide information to the local 
community. Initially there were objections from agricultural interests in the Biesbosch 
area but fears were allayed when compensation was promised for any damage.   
 
The reasons for reintroducing beavers to the Netherlands after c200 years were: 
•  Beavers were needed as natural habitat managers in nature areas  (foresters 
also use cattle, ponies, deer, etc. as habitat managers so they argued beaver 
should be used too) 
•  There is a wish to restore extinct species as part of the natural ecosystem  
 
There are two intentional re-introduction sites, Biesbosch and Gelderse Poort, on 
state forestry land (a third unplanned ‘escape’ re-introduction site, Flevoland, is on 
private land and not managed by the Dutch Forestry Commission).  Fifty two animals 
were released at Biesbosch during 1988-92 and about the same number at Gelderse 
Poort during 1994-2000.   
 
Since the reintroductions took place, the populations at both the reintroduction sites 
have increased much slower than expected and the animals are still in the same 
general release areas.  Both reproduction and mortality is low.  The populations are 
now c60-70 at Gelderse Poort and c100 at Biesbosch. For some reason the 
juveniles are not emigrating from their home territories to look for mates and set up 
new territories. There appear to be no topographical or other barriers to their 
dispersal. 
 
Scientific work was carried out at the time of release but little systematic work has 
been done since. There is no overall plan for the reintroduction and no contingency 
plans for the slow population growth and dispersal. There has been no long-term 
management plan considered for beavers in the Netherlands. At the present time, 
limited research work and little monitoring is being carried out.   
 
No work has been done to ascertain impacts, either positive or negative, on 
biodiversity.  However, during drought conditions in 2003, local staff considered that 
pools excavated by beavers in the drying ponds helped fish to survive. 
 
Prior to release, possible damage to dykes and riverbanks was not considered a 
problem. Before reintroduction the government agreed to pay for all damage to 
agriculture and dykes but they predicted it would be very little, as has since proved to 
be the case. Since release there had been very limited damage to agriculture and 
only 250 Euro (c£180) had been paid in compensation up to summer 2003.   
 
 
 9 

In terms of effects on crops, only small areas of maize adjacent to water have been 
affected. This damage has been minimal due to large field sizes and farmers have 
not complained. There have also been minor problems with fruit trees and sugar 
beet. Farmers were able to obtain fencing, including electric fencing, for fruit trees in 
the early years but it is not considered necessary now. This cost 10,000 Euros 
(c£7,200) in total.  
 
As well as the official reintroductions there was an unplanned “escape” reintroduction 
in Flevoland from a wildlife park. The park has had European beavers since 1988 in 
a large fenced enclosure. The beavers bred successfully and numbers increased. 
Eventually animals escaped from the park around 1990. Local farmers objected to 
the escapes and so the Agricultural Ministry instructed the park to recapture them.  
Some were caught but others set up territories outside and adjacent to the park.  
When the official reintroduction programme in the Netherlands reached its main 
release phases around 1994, these escapes came to be regarded, de facto, as a 
third reintroduction site, albeit an unofficial one. The concern expressed by 
agricultural interests then died down. The park is immediately adjacent to intensive 
agriculture but no significant damage has occurred.  There was some limited grazing 
of maize in a large field, up to 10m from the water edge, with no overall impact on 
crop yield.  
 
3.4 The Brittany Experience – A Local Reintroduction 
A relict population of 30 individuals survived in the lower Rhone and has formed the 
source population for all reintroductions within France.  Beavers were reintroduced 
into the River Ellez catchment of Amorique Regional Park, Brittany, from the Rhone 
in the late 1960s. They were released onto private land without official permission 
and without any subsequent monitoring. The population has increased slowly over 
the last 30+ years and now numbers c60 animals.The beavers have to a large extent 
been contained in the release area by the topography and large artificial dams on the 
main river, and their rate of spread has been slow. However around five years ago 
beavers began to colonise another catchment area. The Ministry of Agriculture does 
not regard them as a major problem and there have only been two cases of damage, 
to conifers and poplars, in the last 13 years. The Ministry encourages preventative 
action in the form of barriers or fencing. The only other reported problem is flooding 
of a minor road. A local farmer receives agri-environmental funding for the 
management of his land, including areas that have been affected by beaver activity. 
Access for the public is difficult but an NGO takes visitors across private land to see 
beavers and their signs. 
 
3.5 The Belgium Experience – Unofficial Reintroductions 
Some natural colonisation of Wallonia (southern Belgium) has taken place from 
Germany since 1997. In addition, however, there have been a number of unofficial 
reintroductions since 1998. These releases have often taken place in unsuitable 
habitats and in some cases have resulted in animals moving large distances (up to 
80 km) and being killed by traffic. There are 60 known release sites, nine of which 
have had minor problems (four related to bank holes, three related to dams, two 
related to landowners who were unhappy with the presence of beaver).  It is now the 
responsibility of the local government, operating via an NGO, to deal with the 
resultant situation. Beavers are now in the Flanders part of Belgium following further 
unofficial releases and colonisation by animals  from Wallonia.   
 
 10 

 
3.6 Summary 
•  Only one country, Denmark, has undertaken a ‘trial’ reintroduction 
•  The extent of pre and post-release monitoring varies.  Where monitoring has 
taken place, it suggests that beavers have generally positive effects on 
biodiversity 
•  Rates of population increase and animal dispersal can vary.  Reasons are not 
always obvious, although landscape topography can have an effect in 
“containing” populations for certain periods of time. 
•  There have been some local detrimental effects on agriculture, forestry etc. 
but these are relatively few and there are established mitigation methods that 
can be applied. Beavers have proved to be a popular wildlife attraction at well 
managed sites 
•  “Unofficial” releases can result in an increased number of problems, and be 
detrimental to the beavers themselves. 
 
4. ARTICLE 22a 
 
4.1  Introduction 
We will now address the specific questions raised in the letter of 20 December 2002, 
starting with the issues relating to Article 22(a) of the Habitats Directive. The article 
states: 
 
‘In implementing the provisions of this Directive, Member States shall: 
 
(a) study the desirability of re-introducing species in Annex IV that are native to their 
territory where this might contribute to their conservation, provided that an 
investigation, also taking into account experience in other Member States, or 
elsewhere, has established that such re-introduction contributes effectively to re-
establishing these species at a favourable conservation status and that it takes 
place only after proper consultation of the public concerned:’ 

 
Annex IV of the Directive lists “Animal and plant species of Community interest in 
need of strict protection”. “Species of Community interest” are defined in Article 1(g) 
as species which, within the European territory of the Member States, are 
“endangered”, “vulnerable”, “rare” or “endemic”.  European beaver is identified in 
Annex IV (and Annex II) as such a “species of Community interest”. 
 
SNH believes that the licence application fully meets the requirements under Article 
22(a) of the Habitats Directive.  We have undertaken considerable study into the 
desirability and practicality of reintroducing beavers to Scotland. This has taken into 
careful account experience in other member states and elsewhere where successful 
projects have gone ahead.  In addition we have undertaken consultations with the 
general public, key interests, and with local people in the vicinity of the proposed 
trial.  Please note that we  have consulted our solicitors, Archibald Campbell and 
Harley, for advice over this issue. They have advised us that we have addressed 
Article 22(a) fully. 
 
 
 11 

The requirements of the Directive have been considered as follows (full reference 
details for the SNH reports identified are provided on page 33 of the January 2002 
licence application): 
 
“…study the desirability of re-introducing…”  A report was commissioned which 
provided evidence of the previous occurrence and eventual extinction of European 
beaver in Scotland (Conroy and Kitchener 1996). An assessment was made which 
demonstrated that the Scottish countryside could support a viable population of 
European beaver if it was ever reintroduced (Webb et al. 1997). Other information is 
provided in various commissioned SNH reports on topics such as investigating 
beavers and their effects on fish and fisheries, hydrology and woodland habitats 
(Collen 1997, Gurnell 1997, Reynolds 2000). This and other information has been 
collated in the 1998 Re-introduction of the European Beaver to Scotland: A Public 
Consultation
 document, the January 2002 licence application and in this document. 
 
“…taking into account experience in other Member States...” Extensive 
correspondence and meetings with European colleagues, and inclusion of 
information on European work in SNH reports listed on page 33 of the January 2002 
licence application (some of this is collated in the1998  Re-introduction of the 
European Beaver to Scotland: A Public Consultation
 document). Also see Sections 3 
and 5-9 of this document plus general references in the licence application. 
 
…such re-introduction contributes effectively to re-establishing these species at a 
favourable conservation status…”  
Once again please note that the current proposal 
is to undertake a time-limited trial which, on its own, will not address favourable 
conservation status significantly. However a trial is required before further action can 
be considered.  
 
“…it takes place only after proper consultation of the public concerned”  Please see 
Section 4.4 of  this document which we believe demonstrates that this project has 
now been involved in extensive and thorough public consultation.  
 
The following sections 4.2-4.4 provide extra supporting information. 
 
4.2   The SNH Approach to Addressing Article 22a - A Trial Reintroduction 
SNH has taken a  precautionary approach to the issue of the reintroduction of 
European beaver to Scotland, notably by proposing to undertake a scientific trial 
rather than a full reintroduction. We have undertaken the most thorough and detailed 
investigation into the feasibility and desirability of reintroducing the beaver of any 
European country.  
 
The European beaver was formerly one of the most widespread Palaearctic 
mammals and was found across Europe and Asia from its western extreme in Britain 
to eastern Siberia. The natural range of the European beaver in the EU at the 
present time is much reduced, particularly in the west. Sweden, France and 
Germany have relatively well-established populations in the west, the Baltic States 
and Poland in the east.  Austria and Finland, have low populations (1000-2000 
animals),  whilst the others (Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, 
Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia) are still at the early stages of 
reintroduction and/or recolonisation. A major gap in their natural range in the EU is at 
 
 12 

the western edge, Britain. Ample evidence exists to show that the species was 
formerly widely distributed in Britain, including across Scotland. However it is not 
possible for European beaver to recolonise Britain naturally (although they will swim 
in the sea for limited distances they would not cross the channel or the North Sea in 
normal circumstances). Therefore the only way for Britain to contribute to the re-
establishment of beavers to their former range is by active reintroduction.  
 
The trial project proposal includes extensive pre-  and post-release monitoring and 
the results of the trial will help inform any future decision about the reintroduction of 
European beaver to Scotland. Thus SNH, having followed the consultation process 
recommended in Article 22(a) and, in the light of European experience, both within 
and outwith the territory of the member states, and noting the contribution of a 
Scottish reintroduction to  favourable conservation status of the species, has not 
followed the Continental approach but has taken a more precautionary line to reflect 
Scottish concerns.  
 
4.3  Favourable Conservation Status  
4.3.1 European Context 
The European beaver was reduced to c1200 animals in eight isolated populations 
across Eurasia by the beginning of the 20th century.  Within the area covered by the 
current EU member states there were only two relict populations; on the river Rhone 
in France and the river Elbe in Germany.  Since  then beavers have increased in 
numbers in the countries where they persisted, and have spread by natural 
colonisation, translocation and, primarily, re-introduction. The species now occurs in 
more than 20 European countries (Table 1), although it does not  yet occupy its 
historic range across Europe. 
 
Table 1. Reintroduction History of European Beaver  
 
Country 
Occurrence of 
Translocation/ 
Additional 
beavers in the 
re-introduction 
natural 
early 20th 
recolonisation 
century 
*Austria 

1970-90 
 
Belarus 

 
 
*Belgium 

1998-2001  

Bulgaria 

Planned  
 
Croatia 

1996-98 
 
*Czech Republic 

1991-92, 1996 

*Denmark 

1999 
 
*Estonia 

1957 

*Finland 

1935-37, 1995 
 
*France 

27 translocations 
 
1959-95 
*Germany 

1936-40, 1966-
 
89, 1999-2000 
*Hungary 

1991-93, 1996-

2003 
Kazakhstan 



 
 13 

*Latvia 

1927-1952, 1975-

84 
*Lithuania 

1947-59 

*Luxembourg 



Mongolia and 

1959-85 
 
China 
*Netherlands 

1988-92, 1994-
 
2000 
Norway 

1925-65 

*Poland 

1943-1949, 1975-

86 
Romania 

1998-1999 
 
Russia 

1927-64 
 
Serbia 

2004 
 
*Slovakia 

1995 

*Slovenia 

1999 

*Spain 

2003 
 
*Sweden 

1922-1939 
 
Switzerland 

1956-77 
 
Ukraine 

Y (no dates) 

Y = Yes, N = No 
* = EU Member States. Favourable conservation status applies at the EU level and 
so EU Member States are identified. 
 
Reintroductions and translocations have taken place since 1922, both in EU member 
states and other European countries.  Britain is one of a very small number of 
European countries where beavers were formerly present  and where reintroduction 
has not taken place. Since the Habitats Directive took effect in 1992,  Denmark and 
Spain have begun reintroduction programmes and Germany and the Netherlands 
have continued their schemes.  Some of the recent “Accession States” are also 
continuing programmes which they had started before joining the EU on 1 May 2004. 
The majority of reintroductions pre-date the Habitats Directive and therefore there is 
limited European experience of how other member states have complied with Article 
22(a). 
 
Throughout Europe reintroductions of the European beaver to parts of its former 
range have taken place with the primary conservation aim of species restoration.  
They have all taken place as “full” reintroductions (apart from Denmark, see earlier 
section), with no form of trial nor exit strategy should problems arise.  There has  
been relatively limited consideration of the medium and long-term effects of the 
presence of beavers. However we have found no evidence of reintroductions or 
translocations being halted or reversed because of adverse effects.  In Bavaria, 
where some problems have been reported (see later section),  some beavers have 
been removed and used for re-introduction projects elsewhere. However,  there are 
no plans to remove beavers completely.   
 
The longer-term effects of beaver presence on land and water uses are dealt with in 
later sections.  However, in summary, although some adverse effects on land use 
interests have been reported at a local scale, we have not come across reports of 
 
 14 

adverse significant impacts at a national scale. The beneficial effects of beavers 
have also been reported to us and these, too, are dealt with in later sections. 
 
It appears also that little pre-release study or monitoring has taken place in 
continental re-introduction projects.  The exception is Denmark where limited pre-
release studies were undertaken at Klosterheden.  Post-release monitoring work has 
most commonly concentrated on beaver ecology (e.g. population change and 
dispersal).  
 
Unlike Scotland, with some exceptions there seems to have been either no or 
minimal public consultation, either national or local, on the Continent. In many 
countries reintroduction has taken place into a protected site, for example a national 
park, with limited involvement of the surrounding communities. Subsequently 
beavers have dispersed and colonised areas outwith the management control of the 
protected area.   
 
In summary, the reintroduction of beaver to nearly all parts of its natural range in 
Europe has involved the following; 
•  a “full” reintroduction without the need for any trial  
•  limited public consultation 
•  very limited pre-release, and varying degrees of post-release monitoring 
•   localised detrimental effects, but also neutral/positive effects   
•  a general view  that, overall, the ongoing restoration of the species is 
continuing to improve the conservation status of the species 
 
The result has been that reintroductions to nearly all the countries where beaver was 
formerly present, appear to have been successful. Also they have generally been 
considered neutral/successful from the wider socio-economic viewpoint.  
 
4.3.2 Contribution to Favourable Conservation Status 
It is important that the trial in Scotland is treated on its merits and no further action 
should take place until after completion. However it seems clear that reintroduction 
of European beaver to Scotland would make a contribution to the favourable 
conservation status of the species in the EU as a whole by extending the range of 
the species considerably.  The term, favourable conservation status, is defined in the 
Habitats Directive as follows; 
 
Article 1 
‘For the purpose of this Directive: 
(i)  conservation status of a species means the sum of the influences acting on the 
species concerned that may affect the long-term distribution and abundance of its 
populations within the territory referred to in Article 2; 
The conservation status will be taken as ‘favourable’ when: 

•  population dynamics data on the species concerned indicate that it is 
maintaining itself on a long-term basis as a viable component of its natural 
habitats, and 

•  the natural range of the species is neither being reduced nor is likely to be 
reduced for the foreseeable future, and 
•  there is, and will probably continue to be, a sufficiently large habitat to 
maintain its populations on a long-term basis:’ 
 
 15 

 
In terms of the Directive the population, range and extent of habitats of a species 
outside the EU is irrelevant.  
 
The best estimates of the current national populations of European beavers are 
given in Table 2 and the total populations in Table 3. 
 
Table 2. National Populations of European Beaver in Europe and Asia 
 
Country 
Population                  
*Austria 
>1300 
Belarus 
24,000 
*Belgium 
200-250 
Croatia 
180 
*Czech Republic 
500 
*Denmark 
51-70 
*Estonia 
11,000 
*Finland 
2,000 
*France 
7,000-10,000 
*Germany 
8,000-10,000 
*Hungary 
>400 
Kazakhstan 
1000 
*Latvia 
>100,000 
*Lithuania 
50,000-70,000 
*Luxembourg 

Mongolia & China 
800 
*Netherlands 
177-227 
Norway 
70,000 
*Poland 
18,000-23,000 
Romania 
>170 
Russia 
232,000-300,000 
Serbia 
30 
*Slovakia 
>500 
*Slovenia 
<6 
*Spain 
18 
*Sweden 
>100,000 
Switzerland 
>350 
Ukraine 
6,000 
* EU Member States 
 
Table 3. Total Populations of European Beaver 
 
Area 
cMinimum Population 
cMaximum Population 
World 
634,000 
732,000 
EU  
299,000 
329,000 
 
The total world population is 634,000-732,000 but this is heavily weighted towards 
Eastern Europe, especially Russia with 232,000-300,000 and the Baltic States with 
 
 16 

>161,000-181,000, and the Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Norway with 
>170,000. 
 
Of the 25 EU Member States 18 currently have European beaver;  Austria, Belgium, 
Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, 
Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and 
Sweden. The EU total population is 299,000-329,000 of which the vast majority is 
within seven countries (>100,000 are in Sweden, >161,000-181,000 in the three 
Baltic States, 18,000-23,000 in Poland, and 15,000-20,000 in France and Germany). 
This partly reflects the earlier reintroductions to these countries, the fact that France 
and Germany had surviving remnant populations into the 20th  century, and the 
availability of suitable habitat.  The remaining c5,200-5,300 animals are spread 
between eleven countries (mainly Austria and Finland) but represent just 1.7% of the 
EU population. Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Hungary, Slovenia, Luxembourg 
and Spain are all in the early stages of reintroduction (or recolonisation in the case of 
Slovenia  and Luxembourg) and their populations cannot be described as 
established. Therefore the current EU population is heavily skewed in terms of  
beaver distribution. 
 
The addition of the Accession States following EU enlargement has resulted in an 
increase in the range of the beaver within the eastern component of the EU territory 
but it has not affected its range in the west of the EU. There is therefore still a need 
to ensure the success of recent reintroduction projects, particularly in the western EU 
countries, and to consider re-establishing beaver in the north-western part of its 
range (i.e. Scotland/Britain). Virtually all EU countries within the historical range now 
have beavers (although populations are still low in some cases) and the major gap 
lies in the north west.  
 
The present EU population and distribution data indicates that further work is 
required in many countries to ensure that beavers are maintaining themselves “on a 
long-term basis as a viable component of its natural habitat”
.  Certain parts of the EU 
(e.g. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland) have relatively large populations which 
can be assumed to be maintaining themselves on a long-term basis.  However this 
contrasts to the situation in the west (e.g. Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium and 
Spain) and other eastern countries (e.g. Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and 
Slovakia) where populations are at a low level and in the early stages of 
reintroduction and/or recolonisation and where viable populations have not been yet 
established.  A successful reintroduction to Scotland would help towards maintaining 
the population in the north-western part of its range in the long-term.   
 
In terms of “long-term distribution and abundance of its populations within the 
territory”
, the present distribution and abundance of European beaver has been 
largely achieved by active reintroduction and translocation by member states 
together with some limited natural recolonisation.  However this distribution and 
abundance could not have been achieved by natural colonisation alone during such 
a short time scale.  Therefore the long-term distribution and abundance can only be 
achieved through further reintroduction programmes into those parts of the EU 
where natural distribution would not be achieved or where population levels are still 
low. As far as Britain is concerned, there are several means by which wild 
populations of European beaver could be established: 
 
 17 

 
(i) 
Escapes from captive collections 
(ii) 
“Unofficial” releases 
(iii) 
Natural colonisation 
(iv) 
Reintroduction 
 
Options (i) and (ii) are obviously not acceptable for a range of reasons (they would 
not be legal, animals could become established in unsuitable habitats and may not 
be viable on a long term basis, no pre-release public consultation would be involved, 
animals would not be monitored or managed in a coordinated way etc.). Natural 
colonisation is unlikely for millenia because of the current marine barrier to beaver 
movement. Therefore the only way to ensure restoration to Britain is through 
reintroduction.   
 
There is some evidence from work undertaken in Sweden that reintroduced beaver 
populations may exhibit an irruptive pattern of development.  Recent beaver 
reintroductions tend to exhibit some degree of population growth and expansion but 
data from some longer established populations have shown negative changes in 
beaver population density. So although some European populations appear to be 
increasing well at the moment, there is a concern that this could reverse in the longer 
term.  
 
Preparatory research work by SNH prior to the 1998 consultation demonstrated that 
there was sufficient habitat to support a population of beavers in Scotland (based 
primarily on 1988 survey data).  Since then the habitat, in terms of extent and quality, 
has probably increased as a result of various habitat management initiatives.  This is 
likely to increase still further by the time a trial has been approved and run, and 
riparian habitat restoration boosted by linking it with beaver habitat creation 
programmes (also see section 5). Therefore  SNH consider that there would be “
sufficiently large habitat to maintain its population on a long-term basis” 
within the 
Scottish component of the EU territory should the results of the trial indicate that a 
reintroduction to Scotland could take place.   
 
In conclusion, a trial reintroduction is judged to be a suitable, precautionary approach 
at this stage. Any subsequent managed full reintroduction to Scotland (and therefore 
Britain) would make a contribution to “re-establishing…”  the  “…species at a 
favourable conservation status”. 
 
 
 18 

4.4 Proper Consultation of the Public 
4.4.1  The National Consultation 
The full details of the 1998 national consultation and its results have already been 
provided (Scott Porter Research and Marketing Ltd., 1998).  It was the results of this 
consultation that indicated the strong public backing of beaver reintroduction. The 
Main Board of SNH subsequently approved a time limited trial over a specific area. 
This, in turn, led to Knapdale being chosen as the most suitable site owned by the 
Forestry Commission. The Main Board decided that the trial project should be 
progressed, subject to local public consultation. Therefore a local consultation took 
place, the details of which are summarised in the 2001 local consultation report (the 
local consultation report was released to the public and interested bodies). However 
further clarification was requested in the letter from the Minister about this 
consultation and this is provided below. 
 
4.4.2  The Local Consultation 
The local consultation was based on the Mid Argyll Area and on the North Knapdale 
Community Council (NKCC) area in particular, to ascertain both the views of the 
public and also the views of individuals, bodies and organisations who might be 
affected. 
 
Quantitative information was gathered by means of a  survey questionnaire, which 
was widely available in the locale.  Assessments of proportions of the consultees in 
favour or opposed to the project were derived from these questionnaires.  However, 
we also gathered and reported on views and opinions expressed by other means. A 
summary of the local consultation process is provided in the January 2002 licence 
application.  
 
The Mid Argyll Branch of the NFU Scotland was initially content with the trial 
proceeding and this was  included in the March 2001 consultation report.  However 
NFU Scotland nationally opposed the trial, and the local branch later, in November 
2001, objected to the trial.  This information was communicated to SNH Main Board 
before they made their decision on the submission of a licence application to 
Scottish ministers. 
 
For the local respondents who were in favour of the proposed trial re-introduction 
there were not any general themes that occurred in the responses, and generally 
respondents did not provide  any lengthy detail over the reasons for their support.  
The key reasons, when any were provided, were:  
•  restoring part of the lost wildlife of Scotland; 
•  increasing biodiversity,  
•  benefits for tourism; and  
•  the benefits of a well managed trial. 
 
Full details of the process are given in the local consultation report of March 2001 
(this includes a November 2001 update regarding the NFUS position). The report 
was distributed to all those who had requested a copy at the time of the consultation.  
The results were also released to the press. The report was sent to SE shortly after 
the SNH licence application was submitted. However, a further copy is enclosed 
(Appendix 2).  
 
 
 19 

4.4.3 Survey by the Argyll and Bute Community Planning Partnership Citizen’s 
Panel 
Since SNH submitted the original licence application in January 2002, a question on 
the beaver proposal was also put to the independently coordinated Citizens’ Panel in 
Argyll by the Argyll and Bute Community Planning Partnership as part of a wider 
questionnaire  in June 2002.  The Citizens’ Panel is comprised of 1000 residents 
recruited to provide a representative cross section of the population in Argyll and 
Bute. Profiling variables include geographic area, age and gender. The question was 
‘Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? – Scottish Natural Heritage 
should undertake a trial re-introduction of the European beaver in Knapdale’.
 There 
was a 68% return (681 questionnaires returned), and the results are given in Table 
5. 
 
Table 5 Results of Argyll Citizens Panel Survey 
 
View of Respondents 
Percentage 
Argyll & Bute 
Mid Argyll & Kintyre* 
Strongly agree 
14 
10 
Agree 
32 
35 
Neither agree nor 
33 
28 
disagree 
Disagree 
11 

Strongly disagree 
10 
19 
(*Figures not available for Mid Argyll separately. Note the figures do not add up to 
100% but are taken from the published report) 
 
Therefore 46% agreed and 21% disagreed for the whole of Argyll and Bute (33% 
unconcerned either way), while for Mid Argyll and Kintyre 45% agreed  and 28% 
disagreed  (28% unconcerned either way).  These are similar to the figures obtained 
by SNH in the local consultation. 
 
4.4.4 Scotecon Study 
In October 2003 the Scottish Economic Policy Network (Scotecon) publicised a 
report on public attitudes towards the control of wild animal species in Scotland. The 
report was based on an innovative method of valuing some of our rarest wildlife. 
Willingness to pay for wildlife control measures was assessed using the CV Market 
Stall 
technique, incorporating a traditional quantitative approaches with an innovative 
qualitative approach which allows a detailed understanding of attitudes towards wild 
animal control to be recorded.   
 
The study involved 71 participants. The reintroduction of the beaver was supported 
by 72% of participants (14% did  not support it and 13% were not sure either way). 
There was also an average willingness to pay of £24 per household per year for 10 
years to fund a pilot beaver reintroduction project. 
 
The study concluded that ‘Scottish Parliamentarians should be reassured that public 
expenditure on wildlife management conservation, despite the largely negative press 
coverage such issues normally receive, represents good value for money.  The 
future economic benefits associated with wildlife management, particularly given the 

 
 20 

close relationships between wildlife and the natural heritage of Scotland and tourism, 
should not be overlooked by government’.
 
 
Full details are available in the published report, (Philip, L.J. and Macmillan, D. 
(2003) Public Perceptions of Attitudes Towards the Control of Wild Animal Species in 
Scotland. Report to Scotecon.net, Department of Land Economy, University of 
Aberdeen) 
 
4.4.5. Summary 
Therefore, in summary, there has now been a national consultation, a local 
consultation, a Citizen Panel survey and a Scotecon study over SNH European 
beaver proposals. We are unaware of any other species reintroduction project 
throughout  Europe where such a high level of consultation has been carried out. In 
all consultations, objectors to the trial and/or reintroduction have been a minority and 
public support has been significant. This is a project which has captured the public 
imagination and gained widespread support. 
 
5. BIODIVERSITY AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS 
 
The experience from Europe of the effect of reintroduced beaver populations is that 
their presence can have a number of positive benefits on biodiversity and other 
environmental factors.  Beavers are managers of their wetland ecosystems and as 
such are often termed a ‘keystone species’.  Beavers introduce a dynamic aspect to 
the ecosystem leading to wetland creation and succession and woodland coppicing 
and succession. This modification of their habitat has a generally beneficial effect on 
other flora and fauna. 
 
The trial, being geographically constrained and time limited, is expected to have a 
local beneficial effect.  An aim of the monitoring programme is to identify some of the 
effects, of the trial on the local biodiversity at Knapdale.   
 
Information gathered from specialists across Europe suggests that the presence of 
beavers in particular cases can have the following effects due to their water and 
woodland management activities; 
•  increase in abundance of wetland birds, and number of species e.g. 
ducks, water rail, etc.  
•  benefit to certain bat species e.g. creation of suitable hunting grounds for 
Daubenton’s bat 
•  benefit to otter 
•  benefit to water vole 
•  benefit to amphibians  
•  greater diversity of macro freshwater invertebrates 
•  habitats suitable for certain fish species 
•  increase in diversity of habitats along small river systems  
•  maintenance and increase of wetlands and associated vegetation 
communities 
•  increase in coppiced riparian woodland habitat 
•  increase in quantity of standing and fallen dead wood 
 
 
 21 

In the Danish trial reintroduction, NERI staff informed us that the riparian willow 
scrub breeding habitat of some passerine bird species has declined in places due to 
localised flooding so they are now breeding in areas closer to the forest edge. There 
has been an increase in habitat for wetland bird species, such as kingfisher and 
moorhen. (Also see Section 7 regarding the effect of beavers of aquatic 
macrophytes). Examples of negative effects of beaver on local biodiversity are not 
common, although the results of a recent Russian study, as reported at the 
European Beaver Symposium (October 2003), in tributaries upstream of a very large 
reservoir suggested that the presence of beaver dams resulted in a localised decline 
in fish diversity and abundance. 
 
There would also be more indirect positive effects on biodiversity. The beaver would 
become a very public symbol of biodiversity in Scotland and, more directly, on 
riparian habitats with the species being used to highlight the need for positive 
management of this habitat. Management of riparian habitat would not just benefit 
biodiversity but also fish and fishing interests. It could benefit land managers by 
being a priority aspect of the woodland grant scheme and Rural Stewardship 
Scheme. Beavers would also highlight the need, in particular, for positive 
management of aspen woodland that could be included in management schemes for 
land managers.   
 
Beavers are already being used as “habitat managers” at three large, fenced sites in 
Britain. All three have started within the last two years, two in Perthshire on private 
land holdings, and one at Ham Fen in Kent. The Ham Fen site is a nature reserve 
and SSSI owned by the Kent Wildlife Trust where beavers are being used to control 
scrub invasion and restore the fen habitat. 
 
There can be other environmental benefits arising from beaver activity not directly 
related to biodiversity, for example; 
•  beaver dams increase purification capacity of burns polluted from 
agricultural and urban sources thus protecting larger rivers and the marine 
environment downstream  
•  increased trapping of sediment and deposition upstream of dams 
(eventually resulting in ‘beaver meadows’ in areas of deposited soil), which 
also improves downstream water quality   
•  beaver dams store water which is then be released during dry periods, 
thereby moderating the detrimental effects of irregular flows 
•  beaver ponds provide deeper areas of water, raise the water table locally 
and slow the overall speed of the water flowing through the system 
 
Many of these effects will obviously be proportional to the numbers of ponds and 
dams present in any system.  Some workers have suggested the possibility of 
“harnessing” beavers to reduce erosion processes from areas of ploughed 
agricultural soils. A recent study in the Tatarstan Republic, Russia, examined the 
effect of 21 reintroduced beavers above a lake suffering from degradation resulting 
from agricultural soil deposition. The beavers created three dams which, during a 
flooding period, stopped an estimated 4,000 tons of sediment. The mass of 
sediments per litre of water downstream of the dams decreased by 53%. The role of 
beavers in improving water quality near urban areas has also been reported from 
Estonia. 
 
 22 

 
It is extremely difficult to put a financial value to such potential benefits but they are 
likely to be significant in many areas (one Latvian specialist has estimated that the 
positive influences of beaver on the Latvian landscape was worth many millions of 
pounds). 
 
6. AGRICULTURE 
 
6.1  General Assessment 
It is accepted that the trial site will yield predominately local information on the  
interactions between beavers and land use. However, information gained at 
Knapdale from the monitoring of, for example, any hydrological change, grazing 
activity in riparian zones, effects on the forest infrastructure (e.g. forest tracks, 
culverts etc.) and forestry activities will also be of relevance to more general 
agricultural situations.  
 
There are a number of potential effects that beavers could have on agriculture if a 
full reintroduction took place, both positive and negative (although SNH are only  
proposing a trial reintroduction).  Some of these are noted in the licence application. 
This section concentrates on reported negative effects, although the beneficial 
effects reported in other sections of this document must also be borne in mind. 
However beavers are hefted to the riparian zone and generally feed within c50m of 
the water’s edge, usually much closer (the Danish study recorded most activity within 
5m).  Therefore it is only certain crops within that zone that may be grazed. Similarly, 
if localised flooding does occur as a result of dam building, it is likely that the 
immediate riparian zone will be most affected.  
 
There is little published information available in Europe in relation to beavers and 
agriculture. However anecdotal information (see Section 6.2 for details) suggests 
that there can be localised problems in some individual cases but on a larger scale 
the level of damage is not significant.  With other “full” reintroductions in Europe the 
impact on agriculture appears either not to have been considered or is regarded as 
slight. The lessons from elsewhere in Europe are that reintroductions have 
proceeded and the effect on the agriculture has not been seen as a significant  
problem. Local opponents of the proposed SNH trial have reported issues but no 
specific details have been provided to SNH to allow further investigation. 
  
Beavers have an extremely catholic diet eating a wide range of herbaceous and 
woody species.  Feeding is usually close to the  water’s edge and so  herbaceous 
plants taken  tend to be wetland or the riparian edge species.  Thus it is unlikely that 
beavers would graze on agricultural grasses to any serious extent, unlike rabbits or 
deer. Intensively farmed fields simply do not provide good beaver habitat. There are 
no reports of beavers being a problem for grass crops but they have been reported 
feeding on orchard trees, maize, corn, oil seed rape, potatoes and sugar beet near 
riparian zones and causing some cases of localised flooding. In terms of good 
practice for riparian management “The Code of Good Practice for Prevention of 
Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity” (Scottish Office, 1997) and “The 
Four Point Plan” (SEPA) both encourage the use of buffer strips along water courses 
and the fencing off of water courses to livestock. Therefore it is assumed that in 
Scotland the ploughing and planting of crops close to the water’s edge would not be 
 
 23 

normal good practice.  Bank damage, resulting from burrowing activities of beavers, 
can sometimes be a localised problem.  
 
In the proposed trial area it is highly unlikely that beavers will graze on grass crops to 
any great extent, even if they were to leave the trial area. There is only the 
occasional arable crop now grown in the Mid Argyll area and the nearest is likely to 
be some 5-6 km from the trial boundary. 
 
6.2  European Experience: Agriculture and Beavers  
The information available to SNH on problems surrounding beavers and agriculture  
(plus additional information on the effects on forestry) is as follows. It is mainly 
derived from direct communication with specialist workers across Europe (both 
within and outwith the EU).; 
 
Austria; some local damage from  flooding, feeding on crops and grazing trees. In 
some areas of intensive agriculture (flat land, high water table and lots of drains) 
problems can occur when beavers build dams and flood riparian areas. In general 
management is carried out to keep them away from problem sites and compensation 
is only paid for damage in connection with habitat improvement or set-aside   As a 
last resort they use live trapping and removal or killing. Illegal killing has been 
recorded. The population is too small at present for sustainable hunting to be used 
as a management method. There are some complaints surrounding damage to 
commercially used broadleaved trees, such as ash, oak and alder, and some 
foresters claim to find it more difficult to cut and extract trees from riparian areas 
where beavers have worked. 
 
Czech Republic; beavers have been present for 10-15 years and are now 
spreading, both from reintroduced stock and natural colonisation (population c400).  
As they have spread they have moved to more populated areas and there are some 
localised problems. There has been some flooding  of agricultural land bordering 
waterways, and they have been reported eating maize and sugar beet on occasions.  
Compensation is paid as there is scope under national legislation in connection with 
endangered species.  However all the problems are viewed as minor in the national 
scale. 
 
The Czech Republic is still at an early stage in terms of establishing a viable beaver 
population but further on than Denmark, Netherlands and Spain.  However they are 
producing a national beaver management plan, before there is a large increase in 
numbers, to try to take account of all contingencies.  This plan will include five to six 
Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) with beaver as a qualifying species, areas for 
beaver colonisation and areas from which beavers will be  excluded because of 
potential conflicts (e.g. areas with medieval fish ponds with sandy banks).  The plan 
will also consider control mechanisms, compensation, who does the work, who 
administers the plan, etc.   
 
Denmark; still at the early stages of reintroduction but beavers are present in 
intensively farmed areas adjacent to the release site. Some flooding of small streams 
in valley bottoms has extended areas of wetland but has not impacted significantly 
on cultivated land. The release site is a state forest and the presence of beavers 
there is viewed as beneficial by the forest service (e.g. advantageous to local 
 
 24 

biodiversity, encouragement of game bird species, beaver grazing of willow scrub 
has reduced scrub removal costs to the forest service, educational and interpretive 
opportunities etc.). (Also see Section 3.2). 
 
Estonia; beavers have colonised drainage ditches in flat areas dug during the 
communist period  to increase crop production which are still  being maintained to 
some degree. There is a licensing system to kill beavers if necessary. They are not a 
significant problem for forestry. 
 
Finland: limited and localised problematic effects of beaver on land uses. These are 
mainly limited to grazing on individual trees in private land ownership and occasional 
flooding of agricultural roads but there are no real agricultural problems. No 
problems have been reported with salmon. 
 
France;  the beaver population is 7-10,000 animals.  There are c40 claims per year 
for damage, 90% of these relate to damage to trees (mainly fruit trees) and the other 
10% is damage to annual crops e.g. maize and sunflowers. In 80% of the cases 
damage to fruit trees occurs less than 10m from the water, and less frequently if 
there is a strip of natural vegetation between the watercourse and the trees at risk.  
Beavers are not seen as a major agricultural problem. Advice is provided on 
management measures to try and prevent damage, as no compensation is paid for 
damage by protected species (except wolf, lynx and bear) though some regions fund 
protection measures. The impact on natural vegetation, especially willow, is 
considered beneficial because the cutting of woody vegetation results in bushy 
growth which stops the development of large trees which could otherwise destabilise 
riverbanks and contribute to erosion. 
 
For information from Brittany see section 3.4. 
 
Germany; in the Elbe area beavers have caused no major problems. Only a few 
localised problems have been reported, for example feeding on maize, corn and 
sugar beet in the  summer and oil seed rape in the winter.  Occasional reports of 
animals blocking streams and partially flooding maize fields. Compensation is not 
paid by the state government.   
 
In Bavaria,  the number of reports of problems appear to be higher than elsewhere in 
Europe. The region has a population of over 6,000 animals. There is an efficient 
system in place for dealing with beaver management issues.  Burrowing into flood 
dykes, etc. is not an issue with beaver although such problems have been caused by 
muskrat and coypu. Even though muskrat and coypu may do a lot of damage, the 
remedial work is carried out by specialist beaver managers to ensure fast action. 
Consequently the view of the specialist beaver managers we have spoken to is that 
beavers are sometimes given the blame for damage created by the other species to 
ensure speedy remedial work is undertaken.  
 
Beaver have caused occasional damage by breaching fish pond dams. There have 
also been localised problems with hydroelectric schemes in two ways; firstly by dams 
and breaches along open aqueducts and secondly by woody debris entering intakes 
and eventually into turbines. The former is not considered a major problem and the 
latter can be mitigated with better mesh guards over the intakes.   
 
 25 

 
Agricultural  damage is small scale (40 m2  of grazed maize is typical at a problem 
site) but seen as a greater problem on smaller farms than on larger ones.  During 
2003 there was low rainfall and crops in areas behind beaver dams did well due to 
the availability of permanent water sources (although some farmers have 
complained of grazing on maize in these areas).  
 
Management in Bavaria includes the removal of dams, electric fencing, the use of  
habitat management and removal of individual problem beavers (283 in 4 years) for 
reintroductions elsewhere. 
 
Lithuania;  reports of some flooding of agricultural fields but considered small-scale. 
Beavers sometimes block the drainage ditches of land which was once intensively 
farmed and which would naturally be wetland.  Ten thousand beavers are killed each 
year and their pelts exported.  Hunting will continue after accession as Lithuania will 
have a relevant derogation from the EC Habitats Directive.   
 
Netherlands; still at the early stages of establishing reintroduced populations.  
Compensation is paid if necessary and so there have not been any problems with 
farmers. Damage has only occurred on a few occasions and there have been no 
problems with dams. There are no concerns regarding agriculture as the population 
and range increase. There are no concerns over impacts to dykes and other water 
level issues. (Also see Section 3.3). 
 
Poland;  in the densely inhabited Krakow area negative effects on agriculture and 
forestry are minor. In the Warsaw area dams have caused the flooding of low-lying 
meadows which would naturally be wet. Some compensation is paid to local farmers.  
We have one report of beavers eating potatoes in Poland.   
 
Poland has a population of 18,000-23,000 beavers. A recent national survey of all 
440 Polish forest districts and 100 selected communes and hunting association field 
units indicated that; 
•  3,200 ha of forestry and agriculture was flooded by beaver activities (out of  
27,472,000 ha of agricultural and forestry land in Poland) 
•  large areas had increased wildlife benefits (15,000 ha of wetland created and 
a further 21,000 ha of improved wildlife habitat by 2001) and increased 
“attractiveness” of woodlands to visitors as a result of beaver activity 
•  200,000 Euro had been paid annually in compensation but the monetary 
value of environmental benefits which beavers brought are judged to outweigh 
the costs (each single ha of wetland created by beavers was considered to be 
worth 10,000 Euro). The view of the author of this survey is that the 
compensation scheme is poorly organised, inconsistently applied and that 80-
90% of compensation payments should not be made. 
 
Russia; studies have demonstrated the value of beaver dams in reducing sediment 
entering and degrading lake systems and in improving water quality by removing 
polluted material. 
 
 
 26 

Sweden;  there are some problems from flooding of forestry and culverts and also 
with tractors on undermined banks. However, overall there is no major problem 
reported from beavers. 
 
Summary; The general experience from Europe seems to be that, nationally, beaver 
damage to agricultural areas is not a major problem. Where localised problems do 
occur they can sometimes be relatively serious to the individual affected.  However 
there are a number of straight forward, tried and tested management techniques 
which have been developed over many years in both Europe and North America that 
can reduce the problem where necessary, such as; 
•  piping dams to lower the water level 
•  fence systems around culverts 
•  destruction of dams 
•  fencing of vulnerable trees or crops 
•  designing riparian woodland or crops to be unattractive 
•  live trapping and relocation 
•  sustainable hunting programmes 
 
There is no evidence from any country that the possibility of agricultural damage 
stopped a reintroduction from taking place or that, if limited damage was 
subsequently experienced, that removal of all beavers was ever considered. The 
range of benefits that beavers can bring have been judged to outweigh any costs.   
 
7. FORESTRY 
 
In the letter of 20 December 2002, reference was made to the proposed trial site’s 
cSAC status. The question was asked as to whether the proposal is compliant with 
Article 6 of the Habitats Directive.  We can confirm that we have been careful to 
ensure that it is. Article 6.3 of the Directive states ‘Any plan or project not directly 
connected with or necessary to the management of the site but likely to have a 
significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or 
projects, shall be subject to appropriate assessment of its implications for the site in 
view of the site’s conservation objectives….
’  Please see Annex 2 of the licence 
application which provides a detailed appropriate assessment as required. The 
assessment includes an examination of possible beaver-woodland interactions.   
 
We have not subsequently revealed any studies which have indicated that beaver 
activity is a cause for concern regarding the conservation of aquatic vegetation 
habitats in Europe. Indeed, as noted in the appropriate assessment, there are 
French cSACs where both beaver and lochs with aquatic vegetation habitats are 
qualifying interests. The relevant French specialist (Patrick Rouland, ONCFS) we 
contacted told us he had no evidence of beaver having a negative effect on such 
loch habitats and the macrophyte communities. He reported that the beavers tend to 
concentrate feeding activities more in the loch edge/ riparian zones rather than in the 
more open loch areas. Furthermore, a team of freshwater ecologists from the 
University of Glasgow surveyed the lochs at Knapdale in 2002. They informed to us 
that, although beavers would be likely to feed on some of the aquatic plant species 
present, they did not ‘...consider there to be any grounds for concern regarding 
threats posed by beaver to the survival of macrophyte vegetation in the lochs 
examined’
.  However, as a precautionary measure, aquatic macrophytes will be 
 
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monitored as part of the trial and action (including implementation of the exit 
strategy) could be undertaken if the site integrity was being affected (see appropriate 
assessment for details). 
 
8. SALMON 
 
8.1 General overview 
Section 2 described the sensitivity in selecting a suitable trial site, especially one 
which provided relatively good natural containment for the beaver population. SNH 
accept that the trial site selected does not contain a river in which Atlantic salmon 
are present, although initial surveys suggest one or two burns being used by sea 
trout. However if the trial took place on a salmon river, which tend to be in relatively 
large catchments, then the released beavers would have the potential to colonise 
any part of the whole catchment. Similarly a trial area would have had to be the 
whole catchment making the management of the project extremely difficult. We 
believe that a degree  of natural containment is important for a trial site, hence the 
requirements are quite specific overall.  
 
The previous SNH-commissioned review on the effect of European and North 
American beavers on fish and fisheries is relevant. This concluded that beavers can 
have positive effects on some fish species in some places and negative effects in 
others.   
 
Experience and evidence from Norway (which has a population of approximately 
70,000 beavers), a comparable situation to Scotland where salmon and other fishing 
is highly regarded both nationally and internationally, is that beavers have no 
significant adverse impact on Atlantic salmon.   
 
Salmon and beavers co-existed in Scotland, and across Europe, for thousands of 
years in the past, albeit with larger fish populations (and beaver populations) than 
now. Beavers do not always build dams in burns/lochs where there is sufficient water 
depth and, when they do dam, only do so on smaller burns (maximum width of about 
10m, but usually in narrower burns). Salmon are known to be able to negotiate  
natural and artificial barriers in burns and contend with dynamic and temporary 
effects on spawning areas, features which can sometimes also result from the 
presence of beavers. River flow rates also vary over the seasons and beaver dams 
become easier for fish to negotiate during periods of higher flow rate. 
 
Indeed there could also be positive effects on freshwater and migratory fish in that it 
would provide the impetus for the management, enhancement and expansion of 
riparian woodland and other habitats.  Without the beavers this is something that 
could take a considerable time. The presence of beavers could mean that public 
expenditure on this work would be more supported to the general public. Funding 
from NGO and other sources may also be more forthcoming with beavers used as a 
charismatic symbol of riparian woodland restoration.   
 
8.2 Specific Experience 
  
Norway:  The only completed European study which specifically examined the effect 
of beaver dams on salmon (and trout) migration that SNH is aware of was a small 
 
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project carried out by scientists based in Norway with an interest in beavers. The 
lead scientist had applied to the Norwegian Department of Nature Management for 
funding but was refused on the grounds that the proposal did not address a 
significant Norwegian management issue (interestingly, funding is available for 
studies into otters and salmonids since the perceived threat from the expanding otter 
population to salmon stocks is deemed more important). Beavers are ignored as an 
issue by anglers in Norway with the odd report, less than one/year, of a dam causing 
a problem. There appears to be minimal conflict between beavers and salmon 
fishing interests. 
 
The Norwegian study was carried out over one year on a tributary stream of a small 
river very similar to those on the west coast of Scotland.  The spawning stream was 
1.3m wide and shallow (c.25 cm) with pools and riffles on a gravel substrate and had 
riparian trees along the banks.  There were four beaver dams on the stream along a 
250m length.  Using electro-fishing, 0+ and 1+ age group salmon and trout were 
found all along the stream, including between the dams and above the highest dam.  
There were young, growing, salmon above all the dams.  The work is preliminary 
and from just one site but salmon in Norway commonly spawn in small streams, 
often in wooded areas.   
 
A Masters dissertation project is currently being completed in Norway (Telemark 
University College) which involved a study on the effects of beaver on fish and 
fisheries, including salmon. Work has included an assessment of attitudes of 
fishermen and some fieldwork.  We have been informed that the preliminary results 
are that most landowners who have beaver living on their tributaries do not perceive 
them as a fisheries problem, or any other sort of significant problem. 
 
No work had been undertaken in Norway on the issue of beavers and salmon until 
recently because there were no obvious areas of conflict. The two recent studies 
were, instead, prompted by the discussions surrounding the proposed Scottish 
beaver trial reintroduction.  
 
SNH will pursue the opportunity for joint research with Norway if the trial proceeds.  
The trial will provide a  period in which not only to carry out joint work but also to 
examine in more detail beaver and fish interactions in Norway and other European 
countries.  
 
(Denmark:  The Denmark trial included the monitoring of fish species, including trout, 
but salmon are not present at the trial site (see 3.2)). 
 
9. PUBLIC HEALTH 
 
9.1 Giardia and Cryptosporidium 
We have found no reported instances of European beavers causing health problems 
in humans from Giardia  or  Cryptosporidium. Based on the European experience, 
European beavers are not viewed as a significant human health problem.  However 
as part of the trial, SNH, in conjunction with Argyll and Bute Council (ABC) and 
Scottish Water, are carrying out pre-release monitoring of the quality of the private 
water supplies (in terms of potential pathogens) and the water courses  in the trial 
area to be able to assess the possible effect of beavers on public health.  ABC are 
 
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undertaking a regular programme of water sampling and analysis to build up the 
picture of the water quality prior to releasing beavers to be able to compare it with 
the post-release situation.  This will provide information on public health issues for 
consideration as part of all the issues at the end of the trial.  One of the criteria for 
the exit strategy is risk to public health.  In regard to public health risks SNH are 
guided by the Environmental Health Department of ABC and Scottish Water. 
 
The results of the ABC public health monitoring undertaken to date will shortly be 
published by Morrison (in press) in an SNH report  (Trial re-introduction of the 
European beaver to Knapdale: Public health monitoring 2001-3. Scottish Natural 
Heritage Commissioned Report F02AC327).  Morrison states “In public health terms, 
Giardia, Cryptosporidium and other microbiological parameters are naturally 
occurring in the environment and within animal and human populations. The general 
advice to reduce the risk to public health is to ensure hands are properly washed and 
water boiled before consumption.”  
 
Also; “The views of Professor G Morris, Scottish Centre for Infection and 
Environmental Health (SCIEH), were sought. He indicated that, subject to the 
beavers undergoing appropriate quarantine and screening, the introduction of a 
limited number of animals and the provision of monitoring and controls, the project 
will not pose a significant additional public health risk.  He further indicates that the 
risk of increased human cases of Giardiasis is significantly low that it should not be 
considered an obstacle to beaver introduction.  
 
The work to date has established the water quality within the Knapdale area and 
provides a baseline for comparison purposes should the project receive Scottish 
Executive consent.  Having considered the information to date, Argyll and Bute 
Council Public Protection Service are of the opinion that subject to controls, the 
introduction of the beaver will not pose a significant risk to public health.  However, 
monitoring of public health issues will become a key priority at the time of 
introduction and effective screening, tracking and other controls and monitoring 
systems will be necessary to objectively assess the impact on public health.” 
 
The view of the Assistant Chief Veterinary Officer, WL Gardner, in September 1999 
in a letter to SNH was that ‘Apart from the common finding of mites on imported 
beavers which are readily treated with insecticides, and the possibility of rabies, we 
have no information to suggest that imported beavers would be affected by other 
conditions which would result in animal or public health problems.  One of my 
colleagues Mr Honeyman has carried out further research into potential pathogens in 
beavers which may affect man and animals.  Most of these conditions are either 
already present in the UK or are readily treatable and do not pose a serious 
problem
.’ 
 
It is worth comparing Scotland and Norway in terms of incidences of human 
Giardiasis to put the disease into perspective.  In Scotland, which has a population  
of about 5 million, the SCIEH recorded 296-427 laboratory reports of infections in 
humans per year, during 1991-2000 (also 568-954 reports of Cryptosporidium  per 
year).  In Norway, population 4.5 million, there were 454 reported cases in 1999.  Of 
these 399 (88%) were cases where people acquired the disease abroad. No 
waterborne outbreaks of Giardiasis have so far been registered in Norway, a country 
 
 30 

with 70,000 beavers and a population well known for their pursuit of outdoor 
activities.  Despite this large beaver population there have been no references to 
beavers being suggested as a source of Giardia  infection. This is despite  Giardia 
cysts being found frequently in Norwegian surface waters. It appears therefore that 
there is a similar level of Giardiasis in Norway as that in Scotland, despite no 
beavers being present in Scotland. 
 
Information we have received from North  American  Giardia  specialists has 
highlighted that  the major source of Giardia infection in humans is from other human 
sources. The term “beaver fever” was apparently invented by a section of the press 
in the 1970s and indicates simply that beavers exist in the area where many people 
camp, hike and may, on occasion, become infected. 
 
We are aware of one study where the incidence of Giardia  and other pathogens 
have been examined in a resident European beaver population. This was 
undertaken in Norway where a large sample of beavers, 241 in total, were tested for 
Giardia.  All were negative (also negative for other potential pathogens, 
Cryptosporidium, Salmonella and Campylobacter; 133-235 beavers tested).   
 
If the proposed reintroduction does proceed then, in  the light of the results of the 
above study on the incidence of Giardia  on the donor population, and the fact that 
the animals will be quarantined for 6 months during which they would be treated for 
any  Giardia  present, we can be fairly confident that any  released beavers will be 
Giardia-free.  However, they may not remain free of Giardia if they should pick up the 
parasite at Knapdale (Giardia  and  Cryptosporidium  have been recorded in the 
Knapdale area, as they are across Scotland, indicating the presence  of animal 
excretors in the area e.g. sheep, deer). The area is used by local visitors and tourists 
and is also used by domestic and wild animals such as sheep, cows, dogs, deer, 
otter, small mammal species, etc. The area has a high annual rainfall and so any 
faecal material containing cysts would be quickly washed into the water. 
 
9.2  Bites to Humans 
Regarding the likelihood of bites, beavers are wild mammals and as with any wild 
animal there may conceivably be circumstances, such as when cornered or 
defending young, when they might attempt to bite people in close proximity.  
However like most other wild mammals their main defence will be avoidance.  In 
addition beavers are usually active in the evening and at night and so direct contact 
with humans would be further reduced.  The only report of such an occurrence SNH 
has seen was a press report in ‘The Scotsman’, in June 2001, from Finland where 
somebody followed a beaver in a river and was bitten.  We have communicated with 
numerous European specialists over the years and have never heard of any other 
instances of beavers biting humans, apart from when they are being captured, and 
when handled in captivity. Therefore there seems to be a very low risk to the general 
public from any released beavers.   
 
10. MANAGEMENT OF THE TRIAL BY SNH 
 
An SNH Project Group, chaired at Director level, will oversee the management of the 
whole trial reintroduction project including financial management, internal/external 
reporting and other aspects of reintroduction not part of the Knapdale trial.  The 
 
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project will be included in operational plans, budgets, financial and other corporate 
management systems.  SNH has wide experience of managing long term projects, 
(e.g. Site Condition Monitoring, Natura, NNR Review, etc.), and of  other 
reintroduction projects (e.g. white-tailed eagle and red kite).  
 
At the local level there will be a dedicated Field Officer. Following recent discussions 
with Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Mammals Trust UK (MTUK), both 
organisations have expressed interest in funding/ managing the Field Officer post.  
 
The Knapdale Beaver Management Group, chaired by the SNH Area Manager, will 
comprise SNH, FE, SWT, Argyll & Bute Council, and the major funder MTUK.  This 
group will be responsible for the overall running of the Knapdale trial. 
 
A Local Community Liaison Group, chaired by a community representative and 
serviced by SNH, will be set up if a licence is received by SNH. It will be made up 
from representatives of key community interests and private individuals.  Its role will 
be for information exchange and liaison over the trial and also to provide the 
opportunity for local people to participate actively in the potential for socio-economic 
benefits in the local area, in particular in terms of tourism. The importance of good 
local communication is evident following our discussions with European colleagues. 
We intend to be open and inclusive, to invite local involvement and be able to 
respond to any problems in a fast and practical way. 
 
If the licence application is approved SNH will wish to discuss with Scottish 
Executive officials at an early stage how the results from the trial and other 
information should be disseminated and discussed more widely so that there is an 
ongoing process of information provision and consideration of the results. The 
alternative is to leave consideration until the end of the trial.   
 
11. INTERPRETATION AND EDUCATION 
 
The primary purpose of the proposed Knapdale project is to undertake a scientific 
trial to determine the effects of beaver, and the ecology of beavers, in Scotland. 
However SNH and our Management Group partners recognise that, if it proceeds, 
there will be  considerable  public interest in the project resulting in an increase in 
visitors to FE’s Knapdale site.  At this stage it is difficult  to be certain which parts of 
the trial area will be used by released beavers.  Despite this uncertainty it is essential 
that interpretive information is provided to visitors at Knapdale.  In this respect the 
current presence of  an existing small, informal, information centre at Knapdale and 
the system of walks and cycle routes make this easier to achieve.  However a 
balance will have to be made between encouraging visitors to learn about beavers 
and the trial, and limiting the disturbance of the beavers themselves so as not to 
compromise the aims of the scientific trial.  The most sensitive period will be when 
the beavers are first released and settling into their new territories after being in 
quarantine.  Once the beavers have settled it is likely that they will be able to tolerate 
a level of disturbance, based on experience from Europe. 
 
Proposals for initial interpretation for the first two years have been discussed and 
agreed with FE. Once the beavers have established themselves it will then be 
possible to develop a fuller interpretative plan for the whole trial period. Throughout 
 
 32 

the trial period the interpretive material will be reviewed to allow the progress of the 
trial and new information on the beaver families to be reported to the public. The 
scale of the interpretation will partly be influenced by the local community, both 
organisations and individuals, as they decide to what extent they wish to develop the 
potential socio-economic benefits of the trial. 
 
In the event of the trial proving to be a success, and a decision being made to 
maintain the beavers at Knapdale after the trial, then there could be considerable 
potential in developing the beaver viewing and related wildlife tourism facilities in the 
Knapdale area which would have socio-economic benefits for the local area and 
Argyll in general. Successful examples elsewhere of wildlife tourism include sea 
eagles on Mull and ospreys at Loch of the Lowes and Loch Garten. A visitor survey 
at the North Kessock Tourist Information Centre in 2000, for example,  found that the 
red kites reintroduced to the area attract extra visitor spending totalling £116,000 per 
year to the local economy. A visitor survey at the Symond’s Yat Rock Peregrine 
Project estimated that the viewing  scheme attracted extra visitor spending of 
£551,000 to the Forest of Dean area in 1999. These types of projects have all 
brought considerable benefits to local communities.  However such plans will be 
dependent on the outcome of the trial. 
 
Interest has already been expressed by the local primary school in being involved 
with the project, and this will be taken forward if the trial proceeds.  There is likely to 
be great interest in the project from schools generally and material will be produced 
for them including the likelihood of a beaver website to provide information. The 
British Embassy in Oslo has already made an initial approach to SNH offering 
assistance in arranging joint Norwegian-Scottish educational projects, such as 
school exchanges, which would be related to the beaver trial.  
 
Part of the role of the proposed Field Officer will be interpretation and education in 
the local area, and this element is likely to increase as, or if, the trial progresses.   
 
12.  EXTERNAL FUNDING 
 
12.1 Background 
Since it is now three years since the original Business Case was presented, it will be 
necessary to update the figures, and ensure the latest business case guidelines are 
addressed, prior to the project commencing on the ground. SNH will therefore do this 
as a separate exercise if and when a licence is received.  Since it is not possible to 
predict when such a licence will be issued, this approach seems to be the best way 
to ensure the financial details will be absolutely up to date. 
 
12.2  Likelihood of support 
This is a high profile and novel project that will generate a high level of media 
interest, along with a range of opportunities for PR activity. SNH will identify 
companies which may provide cash support for the project (companies that may use 
the characteristics of the beaver to promote their products and services).  Examples 
include financial services utilising the marketing opportunities associated with ‘home-
builders’ or the industrious nature of the beavers, and the use of the phrases 
‘beavering away’ or ‘busy as a beaver’. 
 
 
 33 

It is acknowledged that the shortfall cost (approximating to £12,900 per annum of the 
trial, see 2002 Business Case) remains a risk to the progression of the project once 
and if a licence has been issued. However SNH remains confident that, assuming 
the licence application is approved, the remaining funds can be secured from the 
corporate sector through in-kind and cash support. Furthermore, during a meeting in 
December 2004, both MTUK and SWT offered their considerable expertise in further 
fund-raising. 
 
All future proposals will adopt the key principles outlined in the ‘Sponsorship 
Guidelines’ issued by Scottish Procurement Directorate (July 2003) and the SNH 
procedural guidance on ‘Joint Working with the Commercial Sector’ (draft).  
 
 
 34 






 
Analysis of case studies and previous reintroductions indicate that to obtain the greatest 
benefits from a beaver release the following points should be considered: 
 
1)  General interest should be raised by involving the public pre-reintroduction 
2)  Local landowners, chambers of commerce and other interested parties should be 
consulted beforehand on relevant developments 
3)  The use of a well thought out visitor centre should be considered to provide a focus to 
the reintroduction 
4)  Such ecotourism projects should highlight the wild and natural aspects of the 
experience and avoid creating a ‘theme park’ 
5)  Projects in different locations should differentiate their products to cater to different 
markets, for example some sites may concentrate on providing more isolated and 
“natural” experiences whilst others cater for visitors requiring more support 
6)  Ecotourism should generally be practiced at the grassroots level for the benefit of the 
local community, (but note point 7) 
7)  A cohesive face of ecotourism in England and Wales should be offered to the public 
through the formation of an umbrella association along the lines of the Wild Scotland 
initiative 
8)  Thorough discussion and careful planning will be required to minimise the potential 
imbalance between the recipients of benefits from reintroduction and those that 
experience conflict with the beaver 
 
With forethought, prior consultation and planning, a beaver reintroduction should bring 
significant monetary benefits into the local economy and communities that could greatly 
outweigh any potential negative impacts. The remaining challenge is the design of 
frameworks to mitigate and compensate real costs and dispel myths regarding perceived costs. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ii 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 

Index 
 
Section 
Page 
 
 
Summary………………………………………………………………………………  i-ii 
 

 
Index…………………………………………………………………………………...  iii 
 

 
Introduction…………………………………………………………………………...  1-3 
Non-market benefits……………………………………………………………….…... 2 
 
 
Tourism………………………………………………………………………………...  4-9 
Experiences from beaver managers and researchers…………………………………...  4 
Box 1: Tourism multipliers……………………………………………………………..  5 
Table 1: Profile of visitors to wildlife attractions in the UK…………………………...  5 
Table 2: Potential additional site-based revenue……………………………………….  6 
Table 3: Projected income to a beaver reintroduction site based in the UK…………...  6 
Experiences and predictions from providers of wildlife holidays……………………...  7 
Table 4: Expected likely revenue in Scotland  from some wildlife holiday providers...  8 
Hedonic pricing analysis: an independent verification of our results………………….  9 
Tourism and the beaver overview……………………………………………………... 10 
 
 
Costs, Perceptions and Mitigation…………………………………………………...  12-16
Fig 1. Reported regional cost ranges of land-use conflict……………………………...  12 
Agriculture ……………………………………………………………………………..  13 
Box 2: Flow devices……………………………………………………………………  13 
Forestry………………………………………………………………………………… 13 
Fisheries………………………………………………………………………………... 14 
Domestic gardens………………………………………………………………………  14 
Other land-use…………………………………………………………………………..  14 
Perception……………………………………………………………………………… 14 
Mitigation……………………………………………………………………………… 15 
Table 5: Mitigation techniques utilised………………………………………………...  16 
Overview of costs, perception and mitigation………………………………………….  16 
 
 
Conclusions and Recommendations………………………………………………… 17-18
 
 
Literature cited……………………………………………………………………….. 19-20
 
 
Appendix I: Methods use in this study………………………………………………...  I-II 
 
 
Appendix II: Overview of questionnaire respondents………………………………...  III 
 
 
Appendix III: Wildlife attractions - Visitor expenditure model………………………  IV 
 
 
 
 
iii
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 



Introduction 
 
Due to its foraging and engineering activities, the 
European beaver (Castor fiber
) can be 
considered a keystone species of significant 
importance to the maintenance and creation of 
wetland ecosystems 
[7]. Unfortunately these same 
characteristics may lead to conflict with human 
land-use. On the other hand beavers are charismatic 
animals that are appealing to wildlife watchers.  
 
These three factors will all contribute toward the 
economic impacts of a beaver reintroduction. This 
small scale study seeks to estimate the relative sizes 
of these economic impacts through our own original 
research and with reference to previous work by 
others. Such quantifications are fraught with 
difficulty and we stress that any figures provided should not be taken as exact measures, but 
as rough illustrations of the potential magnitude of the impact on tourism revenues (blue in 
figure here). 
 
This report does not present a full cost-
benefit analysis of beaver 
reintroductions as it does not fully 
account for conservation and 
environmental issues or the public 
conscience (orange and green in figure 
here). However accounting for these 
benefits should only strengthen the case 
for reintroduction of the beaver since the 
relatively slight costs to the economy 
described later on in this report, are even 
more fully outweighed by benefits. 
 
The study concentrated on four main 
aspects:  
 
1) 
A questionnaire survey of 
experiences of beaver managers and 
researchers in other European countries 
2) 
An analysis of projected visitor 
expenditure at wildlife attractions in the 
UK 
3) 
A questionnaire survey of the 
experiences and expectations of wildlife 
holiday providers 
4) 
A hedonic (revealed preference) 
analysis of actual wildlife package tours.  
 
Detailed methodologies are provided the 
appendices.
 
1
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 


non-market benefits 
 
The environment around us often provides benefits to us that 
are not immediately apparent or are expensive and difficult 
to emulate, termed ‘ecosystem services’. Wetlands created 
by beaver activity can deliver a broad range of ecosystem 
services. Currently wetlands are known to: 
 
1. reduce erosion  
 
2. reduce pollution by trapping sediments and by trapping 
excess nutrients and potentially dangerous chemicals in these 
sediments  
 
3. regulate peak discharge on river systems after heavy rain  
 
4. maintain or raise the water-table by storing water  
 
By creating wetlands through their damming behaviour, beavers can greatly assist the 
provisioning of these ecosystem services. Calculating the value of these services to humanity 
is difficult and beyond the scope of this report, however the only published attempt (to our 
knowledge) at valuing beaver created wetlands indicate that the benefits are high: In Lativia 
in 1982 it was calculated that, based on a population of 100,000 animals, by the year 2000 
beavers would have created or conserved 150 km2 of wetlands valued at £1 billion
 as 
fixed capital [8]. Furthermore, through this, 32 million m3 of water would be purified 
annually which would have cost around £120 million to do artificially
. In Tatarstan, 
beavers are currently being harnessed to reduce the infilling of Lake Raifa from river eroded 
sediments [9].  
 
The potential for water storing in beaver dams has further application. Floods in England and 
Wales such as those that occurred in the autumn/winter of 2000 have been estimated to cost 
the economy around £600 million per annum 
[10]. Such flood events are expected to 
increase in frequency in the future due to climate change [11] and this has encouraged the UK 
Environment Agency (EA) to reassess its flood management strategies. The EA’s River 
Severn flood management strategy scoping report [10] indicates the need for a more holistic 
approach to flood management including, for example, preventing peak flow from tributaries 
coinciding, together with changes in reservoir operating regimes and storage volume to 
provide flow attenuation.  
 
The dam building behaviour of beavers occurs mainly in smaller tributaries and may provide 
many of the services outlined in the EA report. It is potentially an extremely useful tool for 
future holistic flood management systems in many river catchments throughout Britain, 
including the River Severn. No study has been conducted to examine the economics of 
beavers as flood management tools, but the economic benefits may be considerable. 
 
Other benefits that may be derived from the presence of beavers also revolve around their 
modification of the local habitats. Beavers do not always create dams however they can add 
biodiversity value to their local riparian habitat in their actions as ecosystem engineers. By 
removing trees, shrubs and other shading vegetation they may improve the structural diversity 
of the local area. This has the potential to benefit birds, invertebrates and other fauna of 
riparian habitats [7, 12]. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 



Where the public are willing to pay for 
something even though they may derive 
no direct benefit or use, then it has 
‘existence value’.  
 
One estimate of the monetary value of 
the beaver to the Scottish public 
suggests that a beaver reintroduction 
on top of a large scale forest 
restoration could be worth as much as 
£101 per household 
[13]. Under that 
model the forest restoration alone was 
worth £35 per household, meaning that 
the beavers added £66 per household
 
Two other models were produced to estimate the project value per household whilst allowing 
for a compensation cost to people who view the reintroduction negatively. Accounting for 
compensation requirements, the better fitting of these two models still indicated the mean 
value per household for both the forest and the beaver was £67 and for the forest alone £37  
This means that just to have the knowledge that beavers had been reintroduced in 
Scotland
 (not necessarily to experience them) would still be worth £30 to each household. 
This potentially amounts to more than £65 million across Scotland’s households. 
 
Even though we might not expect any single person or group of people to directly benefit 
from ecosystem services or the simple existence of beavers, from this research we can see 
that the presence of beavers can have considerable value to humans. 
 

 
 
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 

 
Tourism 
 
 
 
 
 
experiences from beaver managers and researchers
 
 
We asked people involved in the research and/or management of beaver populations in 
mainland Europe for their experiences with tourism and the beaver. We did this to attempt to 
build a picture of the current situation in countries with beaver populations and to see whether 
anything could be learned. See Appendix I for further information on our methods and 
Appendix II for a brief overview of some of our results. 
 
•  Two participants gave an estimate of annual visitor numbers to an actual centre of 
3000 and 8500 (mean = 5750) 
•  Two participants gave details of entrance fees for the centres, these being €2.50 and 
€1.25 / person (£1.66 and £.0.83 respectively; mean = £1.25) 
•  Five respondents said they conducted guided tours. 
•  Three participants provided further details estimating that the number of people that 
took the tour ranged from 50 to 5,000 / year (mean = 1,850) at a cost of up to 
€2.50/person (mean = €1.25 or £0.83).  
•  In addition, all sites provide free public access to the release sites.  
•  Four participants gave estimates of the total number of visitors to their sites, these 
ranged from 500 to 30,000 / year (mean = 11500) 
 
We can estimate the further impact of visitors on the local economy using figures from 
previous research into tourism. A study [4] by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds 
(RSPB) found that visitors to RSPB reserves in the UK spent an additional £41 each over 
and above any entrance fees
 in 1998. This equates to £50 at 2006 prices [14]. We can use 
this to estimate potential expenditure at European beaver reintroduction sites.  
 
For a conservative minimum estimate of income we assume that the site and centre are free 
with the only people paying anything being those willing to go on a tour. Using the above 
figures this gives a minimum annual expenditure of £94,035.50 (1850 tour participants × (£50 
additional spend + £0.83 tour fee). However, if all visitors are spending £50 on local goods 
and services this may increase beyond a potential £575,000 (11,500 visitors × £50). 
 
If we add Surrey Research Group’s regional tourism multiplier of 1.3256 to these figures [15] 
(see Box 1.), then we arrive at an expenditure range of £124,653.46 - £762,220 indicating that 
the  benefits to the local economy from one European beaver centre could be around 
£¾ million per annum when using arguably pessimistic visitor number estimates 
.  
 
Beavers could represent a significant attraction to wildlife tourists in the UK.  Single 
species wildlife attractions in the UK tend to attract considerably more visitors and may 
charge a higher entrance fee. For example: 
 
•  The Osprey Centre at Loch Garten in Scotland attracted 33,048 visitors in 2005 with 
an entrance fee of £3 per adult [5] and  
•  The Red Kite Centre in Wales attracted 33,350 visitors in 2004 (up 13.9% from the 
previous year) and charged £2.50 per adult [2].  
•  If these visitor numbers were comparable to a European beaver site, then the income 
to the local economy would be approximately 3 times that of the figure we 
estimated for a European site (i.e. ~ £2.25 million / year)

 
 
4
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 



In addition to admission charges visitor centres and associated retail and food outlets can 
potentially bring substantial revenue for operators. For example, the National Trust, which 
has the largest membership of any UK charity, earns £6.2 million / year from retail and 
catering at its visitor centres alone. This is equivalent to £4 / visitor. RSPB, which also has a 
very large membership, earns around £10 million / year from its retail operations, though this 
includes an online shop. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust has nine visitor centres that in 
2004, received a total of 788,210 visitors (ranging from 15,501 to 184,466 visitors at each of 
the centres), netting the trust £1.7 million in admissions and £489,000 in sales revenue (a 
total of £2.78 / visitor). Data from Wales shows that ancillary income at a site may more than 
double the income from admission charges
 (See Table 2.).  
 
Table 2. Potential additional site-based revenue per person 
 
 Admission 
Donation 
Catering 
Retail 
Other 
Total 
Scotland (N=5) 
£4.49 £1.44 £0.24 £0.60 £0.00 £6.77 
Wales (N=17) 
£3.46 £0.19 £2.77 £1.76 £0.10 £8.28 
 
The England Biodiversity Group recently developed the “Wildlife Attraction: Visitor 
Expenditure Model” [16].  See Appendix III for details of the method used  (also see User 
Guide [17] and Model Assumptions [18]) to estimate the economic contribution an attraction 
could make to the local community. Combining this model with visitor statistics provided 
annually by the three tourism boards of England, Scotland and Wales [2, 19-20] (See Table 1) 
allowed us to hypothesise the impact of a beaver reintroduction in different regions of the UK 
(See Table 3). This data shows that a beaver site could provide a potential net income in 
England of £1.25 million with site-based income such as admission charges increasing 
this to over £2 million.
 
 
Table 3. Projected income from a beaver reintroduction site based in the UK. Total income was 
calculated from the net regional income, based on the ‘Wildlife Attraction: Visitor Expenditure Model’ 
[16], and potential admission income plus additional site income where information was available.  
 

Mean 
Number 
Additional 
annual no. 
of 
Net impact 
Mean 
Potential  site income  Total 
of visitors  visitors 
in region  admission  admission  (from table  income 
to a wildlife  used in 
(£) 
charge 
income 
2) 
  
attraction*  model* 
WALES 
83,042 82,950 541,252.00
3.46  287,007.00 399,819.00 1,228,078.00
SCOTLAND 
20,165 20,180 279,413.00
4.49  90,608.20 46,010.40 416,031.60
ENGLAND** 
 
East (24) 
102,315 
102,270  1,090,613.00
757,820.70
1,848,433.70
East Midland 
110,502 110,600 1,270,801.00
819,546.00
2,090,347.00
(3) 
North East (3) 
24,028 
23,970 
260,377.00
177,617.70
437,994.70
North West 
203,738 203,740 2,206,766.00
1,509,713.40
 
3,716,479.40
(7) 
South East 
41 
own
135,150 135,240 1,595,056.00
7.
1,002,128.40
2,597,184.40
(11) 
nkn
U
South West 
241,132 241,070 2,879,909.00
1,786,328.70
4,666,237.70
(18) 
West 
41,552 41,475 483,700.00
307,329.75
791,029.75
Midlands (5) 
Yorkshire and 
21,036 21,100  4,350.00
156,351.00
380,701.00
Humber (1) 
MEAN 
  
1,251,446.50
 
814,604.46
 
2,066,050.96
 
* See Appendix III for explanation of calculations 
**Numbers in brackets denote the sample size of attractions providing information on visitor numbers 
to attractions in that area. 
 
6
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

experiences and predictions from providers of wildlife holidays 
 
We asked companies that provide wildlife based holidays in the UK and mainland Europe to 
British people, about their operations in general and about their experiences of providing tours 
that enabled people to view beavers. We also asked the companies if they would be willing to 
offer tours in the UK that would involve beavers and what they predicted the costs, spending 
and customer numbers would be. We asked these questions to gain a picture of how wildlife 
holiday providers currently operate across Europe and to also establish how these same 
operators would be expected to operate were beavers to be released into the UK. See 
Appendix I for further information on our methods and Appendix II for a brief overview of 
some of our results. 
 
Providers of wildlife holidays were keen to offer UK based holidays to areas into which 
beavers are released.
 All holiday providers replied that they would offer beaver related 
holidays if they were released into the countries in which they currently offered tours, except 
one which specialised in marine and coastal tours.  
 
Furthermore, some providers would be willing to expand into new geographical regions 
were beavers reintroduced
. Of those companies not currently operating in the respective 
countries: 12% would consider adding holidays to England, 10% would consider adding 
Scotland and 17% would consider adding Wales (an increase in providers of 66%, 10% and 
150% respectively in each country).  
 
The economic input to local economies from beaver related holidays could potentially be 
substantial. If we add up the figures on client numbers, package price, percentage of this price 
that is spent locally and the extra that clients are likely to spend on accommodation, food, 
gifts and other products, then we can arrive at a rough estimate of the input into the local 
economy that these tour companies would have.  
 
We will consider Scotland closely since we received the most responses from there. It also 
has arguably the most developed wildlife tourism industry with respect to the sort of 
overnight and longer breaks we are referring to and has a high proportion of overseas visitors 
(Table 1). Wales and England may benefit more from day trips which make up a large 
percentage of breaks in the UK (for example, in 2002/3, over 100 million day trips were taken 
in the English countryside compared with 25-30 million overnight stays [21]). 
 
Seven of the companies that would offer such holidays in Scotland provided enough 
information to estimate the gross income they might expect. In total the estimate comes to 
£800,965 per year from 7 operators (Table 4). If we add the regional tourism multiplier 
[15] of 1.3256 to these figures (see Box 1), then the benefits to the local economy might rise 
to £1,061,759 per year.  
 
Of the 10 companies that indicated they would or might offer tours in Scotland, we asked 
whether they would consider offering a tour to Knapdale were beaver to be released there. To 
our knowledge none of the companies currently offer a tour to the Knapdale area and six 
companies indicted they would (however one company added the proviso that there shoudn’t 
be a large visitor centre built at the site).  
 
In general, providers were positive about the knock-on effect the beaver might have for 
other tourism
. When asked what they thought the impact would be of a beaver release in 
generating clients for other wildlife and/or non-wildlife holiday packages in the area local to 
the release, respondents graded the impact on average as 4 out of a maximum of 5. 
 
Beaver holidays in Europe:
 Nine of the 20 tour operators we spoke to already offered 
holidays in Europe that included the opportunity to view beavers. This figure includes one 
company which takes tours to the Ham Fen beaver project in Kent, SE England. Therefore at 
least one of these nine companies had already begun offering trips to an area directly as 
a result of a beaver reintroduction.
   
 
7
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

 
Our results, indicate that:  
 
•  Wildlife tour operators have the potential to inject considerable income into local 
economies. 
•  At both the national and local level, the beaver has the potential to attract wildlife tour 
operators who have not previously operated in the area.  
•  In support of this notion; tour operators also believe that the presence of beavers 
would generate further non-beaver related wildlife tourism for the area local to a 
release site.  
Table 4: Expected likely revenue in Scotland  from wildlife holiday providers. 
These data were obtained from survey results where we asked 10 wildlife tour companies 
whether they would offer trips to see beavers in Scotland, were they to be released there. We 
then asked them to estimate the likely pricing, client numbers and local spending in different 
sectors. We then used these figures to predict the likely revenue for the local economy these 
companies would create. Not all companies were able to provide all the data necessary for 
these calculations. Therefore, we extrapolated from those companies that were able to 
provide all the data to arrive at the bottom line (Expected total revenue from all interested 
companies surveyed
). 
No. of 
Variables: Type of beaver holiday offered 
companies 
No. offer as tour highlight 

No. offer as tour extra 

No. offer as both tour highlight and extra   

No. possibly offer as tour extra 

Total No. Companies 
10 
 
From these companies: 
 
% providers expecting some non-UK clients 
36% 
% of clients from outside UK 
24.2% 
Mean number of clients / year 
369.0 
Mean group size 
9.44 
Mean entire package length (days)* 
5.33 
Mean package price 
£477.25 
Mean % of price spent locally 
87.5% 
Mean client extra local spend 
£190.00 
  of which spent on travel 
£76.57 
  of which spent on accommodation 
£38.00 
  of which spent on food 
£32.29 
  of which spent on gifts 
£29.50 
  of which spent on other 
£13.64 
No. Companies where all the above 
information supplied  

 
 
Expected revenue from above companies 
£800,965.00 
Expected mean revenue per company 
£114,423.57 
 
 
Expected total revenue from all interested 
£1,144,235.71 
companies surveyed 
 
* Tours of more than 1-2 days tend to include more than one species and therefore longer 
tours may include other species and areas.  
 
 
8
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

The availability of information for Scotland is at least partly a reflection of Scotland’s 
(particularly the Highlands’ and the West Coast’s) status as the top wildlife destination in the 
UK. However, it may also be due to the highly organised nature of Scotland’s wildlife tour 
operators
. For example, tour operators in Scotland present a fairly cohesive face in the form 
of the Wild Scotland website2. Five of the 48 tour operators approached during the course of 
this study were found from this website via Google. We could not find an equivalent website 
for companies operating in England or Wales. Thus, obtaining information on companies 
operating in Scotland was relatively easy.  
 
The larger population centres in or near England and Wales may provide a large customer 
base within easy access of a release site in these countries. Indeed, locals make up the 
majority of visitors to wildlife attractions (Table 1). 
Additionally, in 1994 informal day 
trips to the countryside represented 14% of the total value of tourism to the English 
economy and generated £9 billion in revenue
 [22]. Therefore, we might expect short 
independent trips to play a larger role and guided trips a smaller role in tourism in England 
and Wales because of the ease of access.  
 
This suggestion is corroborated by a study on visitor numbers to RSPB reserves in 1998 and 
1999 [5]. Of their top 20 (which between them received on average over 800,000 visitors 
annually between 1998 and 1999) 13 are in England and 4 in Wales compared with just 3 in 
Scotland (of which two are in central Scotland, and therefore nearer the large population 
centres).  
 
hedonic pricing analysis: an independent verification of our results  
 
Figures on tourism and beavers obtained from our study could potentially be inaccurate 
simply due to pessimistic or optimistic responses from our questionnaire. To obtain an 
independent verification of our results, we conducted an analysis on the pricing structure of 
actual holidays offered by holiday providers. The assumption is that the price of a product is 
dependant upon its characteristics. For a car price dependant characteristics might include the 
safety features, maximum speed and fuel consumption; whilst for eco-tourism we might 
include accommodation, food and (we would hope) the species you are likely to encounter 
including beaver.  
 
The analysis took information on 120 holidays from wildlife tour brochures. We then 
attempted to tease out the degree to which beaver influence the price through statistical 
techniques as described in Appendix I. In order to do this we estimated the increase produced 
in the price of the holiday when another large charismatic mammal is added to the itinerary. A 
list of 6 such mammals was created based on whether they had: a) been lost to the UK, 
b) weighed over 20 Kg and c) were, arguably, charismatic. These were: bear, beaver, bison, 
elk, lynx and wolves and were called the ‘big-6’. We used this big-6, instead of just single 
species because the low overall numbers recorded for each single species in holiday packages 
(all less than ¼ of holidays) would not have allowed a robust statistical analysis. 
 
•  In accordance with the responses from our questionnaires, beavers are commonly 
regarded as an attractive species by providers.  
 
•  Beaver were mentioned in 20 (17%) of the brochures, wolf in 26 (%), bear in 21 
(17.5%), lynx in 19 (16%), elk in 18 (15%) and bison in 11 (9%). 
 
•  In total, 43 (36%) of the holidays mentioned one or more of these six species 
including, 30 (25%) mentioning two or more and one holiday mentioning all six 
species. 
 
                                                 
http://www.wild-scotland.org.uk 
 
9
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

•  The high frequency of reference to the beaver in the brochures may be an indication 
of one of the advantages this species has to wildlife tourism, rather than simply an 
indication of the beavers’ popularity (according to the tour operators, wolf, bear and 
lynx tend to attract more queries from potential customers than the beaver does). The 
beaver is
  relatively easy to view (particularly when compared to the elusive 
carnivores) and the lack of guaranteed success in viewing European carnivores was 
frequently highlighted by tour operators in their brochures. 
 
Our model related the destination country, holiday length, the number of meals provided and 
the number of charismatic mammal species (from the big-6) listed in the brochure to the price. 
This model proved to be fairly accurate in predicting the price of a holiday3. It was also 
realistic in that the price increased with each of the quantifiable variables.  
 
•  In this model the big-6 mammals contribute significantly to the holiday prices, as 
the holiday price increased by approximately £63 per person every time one of 
the big-6
 mammal species was added to the trip itinerary4.  
•  This estimate of effect on price is likely to be fairly conservative because of the 
statistical tool used5.  
 
The test used will attribute all the variation it can to the destination country first before it 
attributes any variation to the other (quantifiable) variables. Therefore, if countries with the 
largest populations of the big-6 (and therefore the countries most likely to have big-6 
holidays) are also intrinsically more expensive due to higher travel costs (e.g. eastern Europe) 
or higher living costs (e.g. Scandinavia) than the UK, then an increase in holiday prices are 
going to be attributed to these factors first and the presence of any of the big-6 mammals 
after.  
 
We might expect that some wildlife tour operators would be optimistic in their predictions of 
tourism in relation to the beaver, particularly if they could benefit from the presence of 
beavers in the UK and they thought that a positive response in this study might influence any 
decision to release beavers. However, the hedonic pricing analysis presented here indicates 
that this is not the case.  
 
•  Based on our analysis, it appears that the chance of viewing any of these 
mammals really does increase the value of a holiday package considerably.  
 
 
tourism and the beaver overview 
 
Our results indicate that the beaver could bring substantial tourism benefits to a 
reintroduction area and present a useful addition to the UK’s expanding environmental 
tourism market. To inject a note of caution here; researchers and managers did not generally 
grade the economic benefits of beavers very highly. This may be in part due to benefits being 
spread throughout the community and therefore less obvious or less direct than, for example, 
a factory or other single large employer in the area. Regional economic benefits of a beaver 
reintroduction are likely to be smaller scale and more dispersed as they are based on tourism 
revenue throughout the region. However, we may expect that their presence could provide 
benefits to local economies that would make having this species a worthwhile goal even 
before environmental and biodiversity benefits are taken into consideration

                                                 
3 This model explained 92% of the variation in holiday price (R2=0.9, F(32, 87)= 32.278, P<0.001) 
4  β = 62.96±17.33 SE, P<0.001 
5 type I GLM 
 
10
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 


 
11
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 





fisheries 
 
•  Prior to reintroductions, concerns about conflicts with fisheries were only reported by 
one respondent.  
•  Similarly, where beaver populations were established, conflict was among the lowest 
reported with the majority of respondents reporting no conflict occurring. 
•  Two respondents reported greater costs, one as a result of a single incident involving 
a breached fish pond leading to the loss of commercial fish stock.  
•  Mitigation methods employed were mainly dam removal, but also occasionally the 
use of flow devices (see Box 2) or the cull or translocation of problem animals.  
•  Though not mentioned by respondents in this context, fish pond banks can also be 
protected (see below). 
 
domestic gardens 
 
•  Conflict with domestic gardens was not a concern raised prior to beaver 
reintroductions.  
•  Where beaver populations were established, conflict was again limited with a median 
annual cost of €1-100 per beaver population.  
•  Most conflict probably arises from the occasional felling of ornamental trees (53% of 
respondents reported this) and possibly occasional flooding events.  
•  Resulting mitigation methods employed were predominantly the fencing of gardens, 
orchards or individual trees and, to a lesser extent, the removal of dams. 
 
other land-uses 
 
•  Conflicts with land-uses other than those mentioned above were low. There were only 
4 other instances of different conflicts mentioned.  
•  The three highest costs specifically concerning three separate incidences in The 
Netherlands and the Czech Republic of digging of dykes and pond banks resulting in 
their breaching and the flooding of surrounding land.  
•  Similar occurrences have been noted in Lithuania [24] and it therefore appears that 
such incidences are a possibility in low-lying areas and measures should be taken to 
minimise this risk were beavers to be introduced into such areas.  
•  However, these incidences still appear to be rare and can be regarded as the extreme 
end of the economic spectrum of beaver-human conflict.  
•  Mitigation methods employed involved the strengthening and restructuring of at risk 
dykes and pond banks using metal mesh, together with other more usual mitigation 
methods. 
 
perception 
 
Public perception of the beavers are predominantly positive (76% responses, N=17) and 
rarely negative 
(6%). Current public interest in beavers was generally moderate (53% of 
responses, N=17). This level of interest varied compared with the public interest during the 
actual reintroduction period, being higher in 33% (N=12), higher to unchanged in 8%, 
unchanged in 25% and lower in 33% of responses.  
 
These low levels of conflict are possibly because beaver behaviour limits human conflict. 
The reason for this should be fairly obvious: beavers are an aquatic species that are known as 
‘central-place foragers’ [12], that is to say, they use water as a ‘central-place’ for transport 
and safety and tend to restrict their activity to the vicinity of the water. For example, 95% of 
beaver cut trees were found within 5m (16ft) of water
 in Denmark [25] and two separate 
Norwegian studies found that mean-maximum foraging distance from water was 40m (130ft) 
[26] and that beaver foraging declined exponentially with the distance from water [27]. 
Furthermore, their highly developed territorial behaviours help maintain their populations at a 
low density [28]. Damming, the behaviour that has perhaps greatest potential to create 
 
14
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

conflict, only occurs in smaller streams. In North-western Russia, dams were maintained by, 
at most, 53.6% of Eurasian beaver colonies [29]. When damming occurred, it has resulted in a 
mean flooded area per beaver colony of around only 0.75 ha  (1.85 acres) in Estonia [30] and 
1 ha (2.47 acres) in Poland [31]. The same Estonian [30] and Polish [31] studies found that 
approximately only 10% and 3-4.5%, respectively, of colonies were causing conflict 
between beavers and humans
. This limited conflict may explain why public opinion of the 
beaver was generally positive. 
 
Openness to the public about a beaver reintroduction may minimise negative public 
perception. One respondent commented that lack of transparency during reintroductions 
had caused problems
 because land-users (in this case, fruit tree growers) were unprepared 
when conflict arose. The respondent went on to say that had these growers been forewarned, 
they could have taken measures to prevent beaver damage (see below) and furthermore, 
provisioning growers with materials to protect at risk trees would have created goodwill 
between land-users and wildlife managers. 
 
mitigation 
 
A number of mitigation techniques can successfully reduce conflict between the beaver 
and human land-use 
(Table 5). Overall fencing of property was the most commonly utilised 
method, followed by dam removal and then application of water flow devices (‘beaver-
deceivers’ [32]; see Box 2). Obviously, fencing larger parcels of land is more expensive and 
thus for agriculture and forestry, fencing was considerably less popular as a mitigation 
technique. In general, offensive mitigation techniques such as dam removal (as opposed to 
defensive techniques such as fencing) were more frequently used. Only one of the nine 
respondents reported the use of compensation to resolve conflict. Using deterrents, an 
alternative mitigation technique to protect trees from damage, was not mentioned, probably 
because it is fairly new concept. This technique involves painting the lower trunks of trees 
with a clear sand-based paint that herbivores find unpalatable. One example is Wöbra-biber 
made by the German company Flügel7. A 10kg drum, which could protect approximately 60-
70 trees cost for several years, costs € 90.50 (about £ 0.91 / tree). This technique may 
provide a cheap alternative to fencing or netting. 
 
Another method of minimising conflict through mitigation may be the provision of a beaver 
advice line
 or website in the UK that people could call or access to obtain advice on the best 
methods of mitigation or to report conflict. Sources of advice such as these are frequently 
used in North America8 and one has recently been implemented for Wales - the Beaver 
Information Exchange (www.beaverinfo.org). 
 
Based on this survey, most mitigation techniques employed are non-lethal. This may be 
largely due to EU laws banning the culling of beavers in many countries. However, non-lethal 
control would appear to be a very sensible strategy given that, as with many territorial 
species, culling a problem animal will only provide relief until another almost inevitable fills 
the resulting gap. A Polish study [31] found that of the 3-4.5% of beaver colonies caused 
conflict. Most (87%) damage had occurred at the same sites for more than 5 years indicating 
that problems are specific to certain habitat sites, not transitory depending on beaver 
behaviour.  Non-lethal mitigation at established conflict sites would therefore be a 
workable, efficient method to minimise conflict
.  
 
 
                                                 
7 www fluegel-gmbh.de 
8 For example, the Ministry for Environment of the Government of British Columbia in Canada offer a 24 hour 
free-phone number (1-800-663-9453) to which people can report wildlife conflict. 
 
15
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

Table 5: Mitigation techniques utilised. 
Mitigation techniques applied during conflict with various land-uses according to 14 questionnaire 
responses. Figures above the double line form a matrix that represents the number of responses 
mentioning the mitigation technique in connection with the particular land-use. Figures below the 
double line
 (last two rows) represent the number of respondents that mention the mitigation technique 
and the consequent total percentages of respondents that reported the use of that mitigation technique.  
Trans-
Removal 
Flow 
Compen
Land-use Cull 
Fencing 
Other 
location 
of dams 
devices 
-sation 
Agriculture 
3 3 6 4 2 1 0 
Forestry 
3 0 7 2 3 1 0 
Fisheries 
1 1 4 1 0 0 0 
Gardens 
2 0 4 0 9 0 0 
Other 
2 2 3 1 0 0 2 
No. respondents 
3 4 7 4 9 1 2 
% of respondents 
23 31 54 31 69  8  15 
using technique 
 
 
 
overview of costs, perception and mitigation 
 
As with other wildlife, beavers can come into conflict with human land-use. However, it is 
also apparent that the economic cost of such conflict is likely to be low.  
 
•  Estimated annual regional costs (in Euros) of beaver mediated damage varied widely, 
however, the majority of estimates were clumped toward the lower  end of the scale 
(ranging between €0 and €1,000 per population) and the median (typical) costs were 
all within this range (Fig. 1).  
 
•  Furthermore, one respondent stated that in Sweden, research into quantifying 
beaver-mediated damage is not generally considered a worthwhile use of funds 
because conflict between beavers and land-users is so low.  

 
•  Our figures are not dissimilar to those reported for total (all land-use) compensation 
claims from beaver conflict in Norway between 1914 and 1925 totalling 32,500 
Norwegian kroner (NOK) [33] which is equivalent to NOK 64,000 / annum or c. 
€8,000 (£5,500) / annum in today’s prices. 
 
•  There was no correlation between the number of beavers and the annual costs of land-
use conflict9. 
 
•  Similarly, there was no correlation between land area and the annual costs of land-use 
conflict10
 
•  Public perception of beavers is predominantly positive.  
 
•  Several non-lethal mitigation techniques exist, and can be effectively used, to 
reduce conflict particularly at sites of persistent damage. 
 
                                                 
9 Spearman’s rank correlation; rs = 0.49, N=10, P=0.15 
10 Spearman’s rank correlation; rs = 0.05, N=10, P=0.89 
 
16
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

Conclusion and 
Recommendations 
 
This small investigation merely scoped the relative sizes of the costs and benefits of beaver 
reintroduction. As such the figures presented are not likely to be accurate, but instead indicate 
a rough estimate of the likely costs and benefits of a reintroduction. Despite the study’s 
limitations  the balance sheet in terms of the relative sizes of the economic costs and 
benefits we estimated present a very healthy positive balance in favour of beaver 
reintroductions.
 The economic benefits from tourism alone may factor in the millions of 
pounds with the establishment of a visitor centre at a release site potentially drawing over a 
million pounds into the local economy and revenue from commercial tour operators injecting 
a further six or seven figure sum into the economy. Based on the questionnaire responses, it 
does appear that the annual cost of a beaver population is likely to remain below thousands of 
pounds, a small fraction of the potential benefits – and potentially further reduced by the 
application of appropriate mitigation techniques. Although some of the income would have 
been spent in the UK by UK citizens anyway, the beaver has the potential to attract visitors 
from other countries and indeed the beaver may strengthen the UK’s position in the 
international market as a destination for not only culture, but also environmental tourism. 
Certainly, at the local level, it would appear that beavers have the potential to attract visitors 
who otherwise may not have visited the locality. 
 
The extent of benefits versus costs will of course depend on how the wildlife tourism is 
managed. Recommendations for best practice include: 
 
1.  Involve and inform the wider public about the reintroduction. Their awareness of 
the project will not only help its smooth running, but also increase utilisation of 
related tourism ventures. 
 
2.  Inform local land-holders of any reintroduction of animals. In the Netherlands 
this was not always done and as a result not only were land-holders unable to prepare 
any mitigation schemes where required but when any conflict arose land-holders were 
arguably less tolerant of damage. 
 
3.  Use a well thought-out, eco-friendly visitor centre at a key location. This may 
provide a focus for tourism. Many tour operators thought that the Osprey centre at 
Loch Garten, Scotland provided a good example of such a centre. The centre consists 
of a hide, shop and environmentally friendly toilets. 
 
4.  Too many tourists can spoil the experience for some and degrade the 
environment. Tourism related environmental degradation is a recognised problem. 
Furthermore, one tour operator we spoke to indicated that their company would not 
include a beaver reintroduction site in its itinerary where that site had a visitor centre. 
The reason given is that their clients required a ‘wild’ experience that a visitor centre 
could not provide. However, as mentioned above, visitor centres can be a good 
method of attracting many tourists. We suggest that a suitable balance is sought 
between catering for those that simply want to see the beavers and those that want to 
see beavers as part of a wider wildlife experience. 
 
5.  Ecotourism may be best practiced at the grassroots level. Visitor centres may 
provide a focus for tourism, but the most efficient method to maximising tourism 
benefits at the local level would be to involve local tourism stake-holders in the 
project. 
 
17
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 


 
6.  A cohesive face of ecotourism in both England and Wales should be offered to 
the public through the formation of an umbrella association. Several Scottish wildlife 
tour operators cited the formation of Wild Scotland (an association of wildlife tourism 
operators, see www.wild-scotland.org.uk) as a critical factor in the development of 
wildlife tourism in Scotland. Furthermore, through its website, it provides an easily 
accessible interface with the member operators. 
 
7.  Further discussion is needed to evaluate ways of reducing the potential 
mismatch between those that benefit from the presence of the beaver (e.g. the local 
tourism industry) and those that are likely to experience the greatest conflict with the 
beaver (e.g. local landowners). 
 
Economic Cost-Benefit analyses can be used to help guide policy makers through tough 
environmental decisions where the right decision is not always easy to see. They will 
generally attempt to value all of the market based costs and benefits and then add to these 
non-market benefits. Assessing how the public would like to trade their desires for their 
environment against other goods, such as clean air against cheap and abundant energy is a 
difficult business.  
 
The difficulty does not lie in whether or not a beaver reintroduction would pass a cost-benefit 
analysis or not, it almost certainly would. It is instead that those who would economically 
benefit from beaver related tourism may not be the same individuals that experience conflict 
with the beaver. Moreover, whilst the costs might be negligible on a regional scale they would 
concern the small number of individuals who might shoulder them. This is a common 
problem with any environmental issue, and there is no easy answer to the problem. However 
involving local stakeholders from the early stages of a reintroduction project is usually the 
most important step that could be taken to minimise this imbalance. 
 
We have not presented a thorough cost-benefit analysis. Specifically we have not tried to 
estimate the non-market benefits such as the sheer joy of knowing that an animal exists, and 
we do not claim that the figures presented are particularly accurate. On the other hand the 
relative sizes of the costs and benefits are fairly clear. The results of environmental cost-
benefit analyses rarely show such large differences between costs and benefits. So with the 
public’s support it is fairly clear that a reintroduction would improve the welfare of the British 
people overall.  
 
The remaining challenge is the design of frameworks to mitigate and compensate real costs 
and dispel myths regarding perceived costs to reassure sections of the population who believe 
the reintroduced beaver would leave them worse off. 
 
 
 
 
18
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 

Cited literature 
 
1. 
A&M, Review of Wildlife Tourism in Scotland: Main Report. 2002, The Tourism and 
Development Forum. 
2. 
Martinolli, M., Bereziat, C. and M. Graham, Visits to tourist attractions 2006. Report 
for Wales Tourist Board. 2007. 
3. 
Dickie, I., J. Hughes, and A. Esteban, Watched like never before; the local economic 
benefits of spectacular bird species. 2006, RSPB: Sandy. 
4. 
Rayment, M., Spending by Visitors to RSPB Reserves: Results from the Reserves 
Visitor Survey 1998. 1999, RSPB, Sandy. 
5. 
Shiel, A., M. Rayment, and G. Burton, RSPB Reserves and Local Economies. 2002: 
RSPB, Sandy. 
6. 
Parsons, E.C.M., et al., The value of conserving whales: the impacts of whale-watching 
on the economy of rural West Scotland. Aquatic Conservation, 2003. 13: p. 397-415. 
7. 
Macdonald, D.W., et al., Reintroducing the European beaver to Britain: Nostalgic 
meddling or restoring biodiversity? Mammal Review, 1995. 25(4): p. 161-200. 
8. 
Balodis, M., Beaver populations of Latvia: history, development and management. 
Latvijas Zinatnu Akademijas vestis. Dala B/Proceedings of the Latvian Academy of 
Sciences. Section B, 1994. 7/8(564/565): p. 1-127. 
9. 
Gorshkov, D., Is it possible to use beaver building activity to reduce lake 
sedimentation? Lutra, 2003. 46: p. 189-196. 
10.  EA, River Severn Strategy: A Flood Management Strategy For the River Severn 
Corridor - Scoping Report. Project Ref. No. 5009. 2002, Environment Agency: West 
Midlands. 
11.  EA, The climate is changing - time to get ready. 2005, Environment Agency: Bristol. 
12.  Rosell, F., et al., Ecological impact of beavers Castor fiber and Castor canadensis and 
their ability to modify ecosystems. Mammal Review, 2005. 35(3&4): p. 248-276. 
13.  Macmillan, D.C., E.I. Duff, and D.A. Elston, Modelling the Non-market Environmental 
Costs and Benefits of Biodiversity Projects Using Contingent Valuation Data. 
Environmental and Resource Economics, 2001. 18(4): p. 391-410. 
14.  Officer, L.H., Purchasing Power of British Pounds from 1264 to 2005. 2007, 
www.MeasuringWorth.com. 
15.  Scottish Tourism Multiplier Study 1992. Surrey Research Paper No. 31. Surrey 
Research Group 1993, Scottish Office Industry Department. 
16.  Wildlife Attraction: Visitor Expenditure Model. 2006. Developed by SQW for England 
Biodiversity Group, available at www.ukbap.org.uk/ebg/library.asp  
17.  Wildlife Attraction: Visitor Expenditure Model. User Guide 2006. Report by SQW for 
England Biodiversity Group www.ukbap.org.uk/ebg/library.asp  
18.  Wildlife Attraction: Visitor Expenditure Model. Model Assumptions 2006. Report by 
SQW for England Biodiversity Group www.ukbap.org.uk/ebg/library.asp  
19.  Visitor Attraction Trends England 2006. published by VisitBritain, 2007 
20.  Martinolli, M., Bereziat, C. and M. Graham. 2006 The 2005 Visitor Attraction Monitor. 
Report for Visit Scotland, 2006
 
19
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

21.  DEFRA, Sustainable Farming and Food Strategy - indicator data sheet. Environmental 
outcome: Improved landscape and biodiversity; Core indicator 6.04: Access to the 
countryside. Updated October 2006. Available at 
http://statistics.defra.gov.uk/esg/indicators/d604 data.htm  
22.  Review of countryside issues in England. Countryside Agency 2004, The Countryside 
Agency: Cheltenham. p. 68. 
23.  Nitsche, K., Biber: Schutz und Probleme. 2003, Castor Research Society: Dessau. 
24.  Mickus, A. The European beaver (Castor fiber L.) in Lithuania. in The third Nordic 
beaver symposium. 1995. Mekrijärvi, Finland. 
25.  Elmeros, M., A.B. Madsen, and J.P. Berthelsen, Monitoring of reintroduced beavers 
(Castor fiber) in Denmark. Lutra, 2003. 46(2): p. 153-162. 
26.  Parker, H., et al. Landscape use and economic value of Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) 
on a large forest in southeast Norway. in Proceedings 1st European-American Beaver 
Congress. 2001. Kazan. 
27.  Haarberg, O. and F. Rosell, Selective foraging on woody plant species by the Eurasian 
beaver (Castor fiber) in Telemark, Norway. Journal of Zoology, 2006. 270(2): p. 201. 
28.  Campbell, R.D., et al., Territory and group sizes in Eurasian beavers: echoes of 
settlement and reproduction? Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 2005. 58(6): p. 
597-607. 
29.  Danilov, P.I. Canadian and Eurasian beavers in Russian North-west (distribution, 
number, comparative ecology). in The third Nordic beaver symposium. 1995. 
Mekrijärvi, Finland: Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute. 
30.  Laanetu, N. The status of European beaver (Castor fiber L.) population in Estonia and 
its influence on habitats. in The third Nordic beaver symposium. 1995. Mekrijärvi, 
Finland. 
31.  Czech, A. and S. Lisle, Understanding and Solving the Beaver (Castor fiber L.)-Human-
Conflict: An Opportunity to Improve the Environment and Economy of Poland, in 
Biber: Die Erfolgreiche Rückkehr, J. Sieber, Editor. 2003, Denisia 9, zugleich Kataloge 
der OÖ. p. 91-98. 
32.  Lisle, S., The use and potential of flow devices in beaver management. Lutra, 2003. 
46(2): p. 211-216. 
33.  Myrberget, S., The Beaver in Norway. Acta Theriologica, 1967. 12: p. 17-26. 
 
 
 
 
 
20
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

Appendix I: Methods used in  
this study 
Three sub-projects formed the core of this study, these being: two questionnaires, one to 
professionals working with beaver management or research and one to providers of wildlife 
tours; and a hedonic (revealed pricing) analysis of wildlife package tours.  
 
Questionnaire to beaver managers and researchers 
 
The questionnaire consisted of two sections. The first section dealt with the history of the 
beaver and its economic impacts in the respondents’ geographical region. In particular, 
participants were asked about conflict between beavers and five categories of land-use; 
agriculture, forestry, fisheries, domestic gardens and ‘other’. Further details were asked 
concerning conflict, the mitigation methods employed to reduce conflict and also the benefits 
noted from the presence of beavers. The final question in this section asked what public 
concerns had been voiced prior to beavers being translocated into a region. The second 
section dealt with current public opinion of the beaver and the respondents’ experience with 
ecotourism in relation to the beaver. In particular, participants were asked about visitor 
numbers to specific beaver sites, perceived economic impacts from tourism and, if the local 
economy had received little benefit from any tourism, the reasons why this might be the case.  
The questionnaire was sent to 57 managers and researchers across Europe. When 
sending the questionnaires, we simply asked that recipient’s completed the questionnaire and 
return it via post, fax or email. We did not provide stamped return envelopes. Managers and 
researchers were selected for their contribution to the scientific literature on the beaver and / 
or their involvement in symposia on research and management of the beaver, such as the 
International Beaver Symposium. 
 
Questionnaire to providers of wildlife holidays 
 
The questionnaire consisted of three main sections. The first section dealt with the 
respondents’ business, such as company age and size, number of customers and the 
company’s reaction to previous reintroductions of any species. The second with a potential 
reintroduction of the beaver into the UK and, in particular, asked whether the operator would 
include a reintroduction program in its itinerary, the number of customers it might expect 
were it to offer such trips and the money that they would expect clients to spend over and 
above the price of the holiday. Operators were also asked at what price they would set a UK 
beaver holiday and the proportion of income from this tour that would be spent locally to the 
tour location. The third section dealt with the respondents’ experiences with the beaver when 
operating in the rest of Europe. In addition, we asked respondents specific questions 
concerning the proposed reintroduction of the beaver into Knapdale in Scotland. At the time 
of data collection, the Knapdale proposal had not yet been refused by the Scottish Executive.  
The questionnaire was sent to 42 operators based in the UK and four other based in 
other parts of Europe. When sending the questionnaire, we told recipients that we would get 
in touch via telephone within a few days to conduct an interview following the questionnaire. 
All companies were chosen because they operated in the UK and / or the rest of Europe and 
targeted customers from the UK. Companies were selected from adverts found in BBC 
Wildlife Magazine, the Responsible Travel website (www.responsibletravel.com) and 
searches conducted in Google (www.google.co.uk). 
 
I
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

Hedonic pricing index 
 
Environmental goods are rarely traded directly in markets since they are normally classed as 
public goods. Public goods are goods such as street lighting, where it is difficult to prevent 
people from using them and having an extra person using them does not significantly 
diminish the benefits it imparts on all other users. Public authorities considering the most 
appropriate amounts of money to spend on these goods have a number of economic tools at 
their disposal. One of these methods is hedonic pricing. 
 
It is founded on the basic premise that the market price of a good is simply a 
reflection of the values of its characteristics. If a house is within the catchment area of a 
particularly good school then we might expect that to be reflected in the price. So by taking 
the prices of houses in an area and comparing them to their relative characteristics we can 
tease out the effect of one of these characteristics. For a house this will involve looking at the 
size, age, proximity to public transport and so forth along with what school catchment it is in.  
 
This method has been used since its conception to consider even less tangible goods 
such as those pertaining to the natural environment or even the value of a life. In this instance 
we used eco-tourism holidays and the species mentioned within them to tease out the impact 
that large charismatic mammals have on the price which holiday providers are able to charge. 
This is done statistically using some form of multivariate regression analysis, such as a 
Generalised Linear Model (GLM). 
We obtained brochures (either hardcopy or web-based) from 14 of the 46 tour 
providers mentioned above. From a total of 120 European holidays (including UK holidays) 
offered by these companies, we recorded holiday offer price, country of destination, length 
(days), mean daily number of meals provided and whether the brochure mentioned any of the 
following mammal species: Bear (Ursus arctos), beaver, bison (Bison bonasus), elk (Alces 
alces
), lynx (Lynx lynx) and wolf (Canis lupus). We choose these six species over others 
because they were once found in the UK but are now extinct in the wild, they are large 
(>20kg) and are arguably charismatic. Therefore other large and potentially charismatic 
mammal species such as the red deer (Cervus elaphus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) were 
excluded as they are currently found living wild in the UK. We called these six species the 
big-6’. 
 
Statistical analyses 
 
All analyses were conducted in SPSS (v.13) or SAS. Analysis of the questionnaire data 
beyond finding mean values was done using Spearman’s rank correlation or linear regression. 
Where an analysis was done on ranged variables, the median of ranges was used.  
Hedonic pricing was analysed using a type 1 general linear model (GLM) with 
holiday price as the dependent variable, destination country as the fixed factor and all other 
variables as covariates. The six mammal species were lumped together as a cumulative 
variable (0-6). This was done because there was significant positive colinearity between these 
species (Spearman’s rank correlations, P<0.01 for all cases), except between bear and elk and 
bear and bison. By lumping these species together, we were essentially examining holidays 
that were specifically targeting customers whom wished to see large charismatic mammals. 
Additional comparisons of means was conducted using the non-parametric Mann-Whitney U 
test. 
The two-tailed P value of 0.05 was used as the cut-off point for significant results in 
all analyses. 
 
II
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

Appendix II: Overview of 
questionnaire responses 
Managers and researchers of beaver populations 
 
We received 18 replies to the questionnaire, a reasonable response rate of 34%, though not all 
respondents answered all questions. Respondents’ regions of experience ranged from an 
entire country to a large reserve within a country and came from a total of 14 European 
countries, these being Belgium, Coatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, 
Germany, Norway, Poland, Russia (two participants), Serbia and Montenegro, Sweden (three 
participants) and the Netherlands (two participants). Reintroductions of beaver from other 
countries had occurred in eleven of these respondents’ regions of experience, seven regions 
had experienced reintroductions from other parts of the country and in two regions (in 
Germany and Norway), beavers had never been expatriated. Some regions had experienced 
combinations of these events, hence the numeric mismatch.  
On average, 160 beavers were released over the course of the programs (range from 2 
or 3 to 1,500 with a median of 51 animals) and the current beaver population sizes in the 
respondents regions averaged c. 20,200 animals (range from just  20 to >100,000, median = 
2,000 animals). Population growth rates post-release (where known) averaged c.18% (range 
from 5% to 42). Current population growth rates average c. 16% (range from 0% to 30%). 
 
Providers of wildlife holidays 
 
We obtained 20 responses to this questionnaire, a good response rate of 48%. These responses 
represent a broad range of tour operations from ‘one man’ outfits to those employing 600 FT 
staff (mean 40 FT staff) and from companies offering just one tour option per year to those 
offering over 100 holidays per year (mean 57 holidays). Likewise, the number of customers 
taken per year was quite broad, from 40 to 4,000 (mean 980 customers). Most customers 
came from the UK (mean 81%) with a small proportion coming from other European 
countries (mean 7%) and non-European countries (mean 12%). The holidays the companies 
offered encompassed a variety of types but were predominantly ‘wildlife only’ (72% offered 
these) followed by ‘bespoke’, ‘wildlife and culture’ and ‘other’ holidays types (44% each). 
Tour operators’ charges were between the ranges of £10-200 to £2,000+ per holiday (the 
median or typical range was £501-£1,000). Some operators were able to give estimates for the 
sum they spend on travel, accommodation, food, guides and ‘other’ spending. Based on the 
medians of the ranges given for these categories, it appears that the most money gets spent on 
accommodation (27%) and guides (26% of the total spending in the four categories), followed 
by travel (24%) food (16%) and ‘other’ (6%). The tour operators generally appeared to be 
ethically minded with 72% being members of a non-governmental organisation dealing with 
conservation and 73% financially contributing towards conservation in some form. However, 
this figure drops to 65% and 55% respectively if you assume that those that do not contribute 
to conservation in some form simply ignored the question. 
 
 
III
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 

Appendix III: Wildlife attractions – 
Visitor expenditure model 
The Wildlife Attraction: Visitor Expenditure Model was developed by SQW for the England 
Biodiversity Group. For this analysis we ran the model for a beaver reintroduction separately for 
Wales and Scotland, then for separate regions of England as defined in the model, but excluding 
London.  
 
The reintroduction site was hypothesised to have the following characteristics:  
 
•  a remote rural site;  
 
•  contain over 3 distinct wildlife habitats (we assumed that at any site at least 3 of 
the following would be present – dry grassland / wet grassland / marsh, fen, 
reedbed / lakes / rivers and streams / native broadleaved woodland / native 
coniferous woodland / lowland bog / upland bog) 
 
•  be the best site in the UK for viewing this species   
 
The following assumptions were also made: 
 
•  Due to the charisma and appeal of the iconic beaver it was assumed that the site would 
thereby attracting enthusiasts and general visitors alike.  
 
•  It was presumed that the site would be open to visitors all year and assumed that visits 
during peak season would be approximately 4 times greater than in the low season. 
 
•  The “Mean annual no. of visitors to a wildlife attraction” (See table 3) for Scotland and 
Wales was calculated by dividing the total number of visitors to wildlife attraction by the 
number of sites providing information (see table 1). Due to the different attractions within 
each group this does not represent a comparable market. Numbers may also be an 
overestimate because of the inclusion of zoos in the wildlife attraction definitions. 
However numbers were accepted as the best available estimate of potential visitor 
numbers. 
 
•  For England the “Visitor Attraction Trends England 2006.” [19] provides information 
on the number of visits made to a selection of wildlife attractions in each 
geographical region. The “Mean annual no. of visitors to a wildlife attraction” (See table 
3) for each region in England was calculated from this data. As with Scotland and 
Wales, data is not comparable due to the different group structure and there is 
potential that this is an overestimate because of the inclusion of zoos in many of the 
wildlife attraction definitions. However numbers were accepted as the best available 
estimate of potential visitor numbers. 
 
•  The “Number of visitors used in model” (see table 3) shows the final number of visitors 
used in the Wildlife Attraction model. Instead of inputting the total annual number of 
visitors the model requires an estimate of weekly visitor numbers for high and low 
season, stipulating high season as 9 weeks and low season as 43 weeks. And using these 
figures to calculate the annual visitor number. By manipulating high and low season 
visitor numbers (keeping a ratio of approximately 4:1) we kept visitor numbers as within 
100 of the regions annual mean as calculated from the tourist board data. 
 
•  No data was available for spending power of holiday makers versus day-trippers to such a 
site so the model’s region-based default figures were accepted.      
 
 
IV
Campbell RD, Dutton A& Hughes J. 2007. Economic impacts of the beaver. Report for the Wild Britain Initiative. 28 pages. 


RISK ASSESSMENT:  
 
PROPOSED SCOTTISH BEAVER TRAIL, KNAPDALE, ARGYLL 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BEAVER EFFECT & IMPACT 
WHAT /WHERE AT RISK? 
MITIGATION MEASURES/CONTROLS 
ACTION BY 
RISK RATING  
 
High/ Medium/ Low 
Flooding 
 
 
 
 
 
1.Detrimental flooding caused 
(i) Crinan Canal – feeder burns 
•  Active field monitoring of beaver locations and 
Field Officer 
(i) Low 
by damming 
(ii) Neighbouring private 
activity by project field staff. 
 
(ii) Low 
property 
•  Removal of dams if location considered to have 
Field Officer 
(iii) Med 
(iii) FCS estate infrastructure 
potential negative impact. 
 
•  If required, fencing of key points to prevent beaver 
Field Officer 
access/egress. 
 
•  Recapture and relocation of animals if beaver activity  Field Officer 
considered to potentially have negative impact. 
 
•  Insurance cover in place. 
Steering/Local 
Management Groups 
 
2. Detrimental flooding caused 
(i) Crinan Canal 
•  Active field monitoring of beaver locations and 
Field Officer 
(i) Med 
by burrowing 
(ii) Neighbouring private 
activity by project field staff. 
 
(ii) Low 
property 
•  If required, fencing of key points to prevent beaver 
Field Officer 
(iii) Low 
(iii) FCS estate infrastructure 
access/egress. 
 
•  Recapture and relocation of animals if beaver activity  Field Officer 
considered to potentially have negative impact. 
 
•  Insurance cover in place. 
Steering/Local 
Management Groups 
 
3.Potential bank collapse 
(i) Crinan Canal 
•  Active field monitoring of beaver locations and 
Field Officer 
(i) Med 
caused by burrowing 
(ii) BW feeder lochs 
activity by project field staff. 
 
(ii) Med 
•  If required, fencing of key points to prevent beaver 
Field Officer 
access/egress. 
 
•  Recapture and relocation of animals if beaver activity  Field Officer 
considered to potentially have negative impact. 
 
•  Insurance cover in place. 
Steering/Local 
Management Groups 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Public health 
 
 
 
 
 
4.Spread of water borne 
 
(i) Public water supply: 
•  Public health monitoring of water supplies by Argyll &  A & B Council 
(i)  Low 
pathogens in drinking water 
Kilduskland reservoir 
Bute Council Public Protection Services. 
 
 
supply (eg Giardia,  
 
•  Screening of beavers in quarantine and post release  RZSS/Field Officer 
 
Cryptosporidium). 
(ii) Private water supplies (11): 
•  Active field monitoring of beaver locations and 
Field Officer 
(ii)  Low 
 
Oakbank Farm, Scotnish Farm, 
activity by project field staff. 
 
Scotnish Lodge, Dounans, Leac 
•  If required, fencing of key points to prevent beaver 
Field Officer 
na Ban, Seafield Farm, 
access/egress. 
 
Gallachoile, Barnluasgan, 
•  Recapture and relocation of animals if beaver activity  Field Officer 
Craglin, Gartnagrenach & Tigh-
considered to potentially have negative impact. 
 
na-grian 
 
Forestry and agriculture 
 
 
 
 
 
5.Damage to notable trees 
(i) FCS estate 
•  Fencing of key points to prevent beaver 
Field Officer & FCS 
(i) Low 
 
(ii) Neighbouring private forestry 
access/egress. 
Field Officer 
(ii) Low 
interests  
•  If required, fencing of key points to prevent beaver 
 
 
access/egress. 
Steering/Local 
•  Insurance cover in place. 
Management Groups 
6.Damage to forestry 
(i) FCS estate 
•  Active field monitoring of beaver locations and 
Field Officer & FCS 
(i) Low 
(ii) Neighbouring private forestry 
activity by project field staff. 
Steering/Local 
(ii) Low 
interests 
•  Insurance cover in place. 
Management Groups 
7.Damage to crops 
(i)  Neighbouring private 
•  Active field monitoring of beaver locations and 
Field Officer 
(i) Low 
 
property – crops 
activity by project field staff. 
 
 
 
•  If required, fencing of key points to prevent beaver 
Field Officer 
 
access/egress. 
 
•  Insurance cover in place. 
Steering/Local 
Management Groups 
 
Fish 
 
 
 
 
 
8.Migrating fish impeded by 
(i) Efferent/afferent burns from 
•  Active field monitoring of beaver locations and 
Field Officer & AFT 
(i) Low 
damming 
west side of Loch Coille Bharr 
activity by project field staff. 
 
 
and efferent burn from Loch 
•  If required, fencing of key points to prevent beaver 
Field Officer 
(ii) Low 
Linne 
access/egress. 
 
(ii) Outwith trial area: River Add 
 
 
– upstream & tributaries (salmon 
 
& sea trout) 
 
 
9.Salmonid spawning area(s) 
(i)  Outwith trial area: River Add 
•  Active field monitoring of beaver locations and 
Field Officer & AFT 
(i) Low 
impacted by damming and 
– upstream & tributaries 
activity by project field staff. 
 
flooding 
(salmon & sea trout) 
•  Insurance cover in place. 
Steering/Local 
 
Management Groups 
 

Designated features 
 
 
 
 
 
10.Significant detrimental impact 
(i)  Taynish and Knapdale 
•  ‘Appropriate Assessment’ monitoring of features by 
SNH 
(i) Low-Med 
upon designated features of 
Woods SAC (marsh fritillary 
SNH. 
 
 
SAC/SSSI 
butterfly, western acidic oak 
•  Active field monitoring of beaver locations and 
Field Officer 
(ii)  Low-Med 
woodland, otter, lochs with 
activity by project field staff. 
aquatic vegetation). 
•  Removal of animals if beaver activity considered to 
(ii) Knapdale Woods SSSI 
have significant negative impact. 
(breeding birds, bryophytes, 
 
dragonflies, lichens, loch 
 
trophic range, upland oak 
wood). 
 
11. Significant detrimental 
(i)  13 SAMs within trial area (1 
•  Active field monitoring of beaver locations and 
Field Officer 
(i)  Low 
impact upon Scheduled Ancient 
at Loch Coille Bharr). 
activity by project field staff. 
 
(ii)  Low 
Monuments (SAMs) 
(ii) 124 Unscheduled SAMs 
•  Monitoring of SAMs by Field Officer, FCS and 
Field Officer, FCS & 
 
within trial area. 
Historic Scotland, as part of agreed SAM 
Historic Scotland 
Management Plans. 
•  Protection of features if considered practicable and a 
high risk of negative impact. 
•  Removal of animals if beaver activity considered to 
have significant negative impact. 
 
People 
 
 
 
 
 
12. Significant detrimental 
(i)  Beavers 
•  Information and media campaign to manage visitors.  Steering/Local 
(i) Low 
impact on trial due to marked 
(ii) Designated site features 
•  Interpretation, recreation and access management 
Management Groups 
(ii) Low 
increase in visitor numbers to 
plan development and implementation. 
FCS 
trial area. 
•  Monitoring of visitor numbers. 
 
 
FCS 
13. Significant detrimental 
(i) Road and car parking 
•  Information and media campaign to manage visitors.  Steering/Local 
(i) Low-Med 
impact on local area 
capacity and condition. 
•  Interpretation, recreation and access management 
Management Groups 
infrastructure due to marked 
plan development and implementation. 
FCS 
increase in visitor numbers to 
•  Monitoring of visitor numbers. 
 
trial area. 
FCS 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
  RISK ASSESSMENT PREPARED BY:   Simon Jones, SBT Project Manager 
 
 
 
 
DATE:  Oct 2007 
REVIEW DATE: 
   
  SIGNATURE: 

 
 
 
 

SUMMARY 
This is an application to Scottish Government  by  The Royal Zoological Society of 
Scotland  and Scottish Wildlife Trust  (the Principle Applicants) for a licence under 
section 16(4) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended, to release 
European beaver, Castor fiber, for a trial re-introduction in Knapdale, Argyll.  
Evidence suggests that the European beaver was resident in Scotland until about the 
16th  century, when it was persecuted to extinction by over-hunting. Since 1995, 
Scottish  Natural  Heritage  has been investigating the potential for restoring this 
species to the native fauna of Scotland.  This work is in line with requirements on the 
UK Government, under Article 22 of the ‘Habitats Directive’. If re-introduced, 
evidence suggests beavers  would have a beneficial effect on Scotland’s wider 
biodiversity as a result of the effects of their foraging and engineering activities on 
woodland and aquatic habitats. 
SNH have compiled a suite of information with regard to the scientific plausibility and 
desirability of conducting a re-introduction.  A national consultation commissioned by 
SNH in 1998 demonstrated that a majority of the public were in favour of a re-
introduction although some concerns were expressed by certain interest groups. 
Therefore a scientifically monitored, time-limited and site specific trial re-introduction 
is proposed by The Scottish Beaver Trial in order to: 
• 
Study the ecology of the beaver in the Scottish environment 
• 
Assess the effects of beaver activities on the environment, including a range of 
land uses; 
• 
Generate information during the proposed trial release that will inform a 
potential further release of beavers at other sites with different habitat 
characteristics;   
• 
Explore the environmental education opportunities that may arise from the trial 
itself and the scope for a wider programme should the trial be successful   
• 
Determine the extent and impact of any increased tourism generated through 
the presence of beaver  
A good quality site for a trial re-introduction has been identified at Knapdale, mid 
Argyll, which is managed by Forestry Commission Scotland.  A satisfactory level of 
support for a trial re-introduction at Knapdale has been received during a local 
consultation. A suitable donor population has been identified in Norway and 
Norwegian expertise is available for the capture of animals. Strategies have been 
drawn up to ensure the proper management of the beavers in quarantine prior to 
release and post release at Knapdale.   
The proposal is to collect three  beaver  families  from the donor country in autumn 
2008. There will then follow a six month period of quarantine. Three beaver families 
will then be released at Knapdale in spring 2009. They will be studied for a five year 
period until spring 2014.  
The cash cost of the core scientific project will be in the region of £800,000 for the 
six  year period beginning April 2008.  The Principle Applicants request  that 
Government grants a licence for the trial release of European beaver into the wild in 
Scotland at Knapdale, Argyll, under Section 16(4) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 
1981 as amended. 
 

 
 
 
 


INTRODUCTION 
 
Written and archaeological evidence suggests that the European beaver was once 
widely distributed throughout mainland Scotland.  Beaver remains are not well 
preserved and these records provide limited information on the precise distribution 
and population status of the species in Scotland before they became extinct.  
However, an investigation into its history shows that the beaver was resident in 
Scotland until  the 12th century, although there is strong evidence that it persisted 
until a much later date, possibly the 16th century (Conroy & Kitchener 1996). 
The extinction of beaver in Scotland, and across the whole of Britain, has been 
attributed largely to hunting for its valuable pelt and the medicinal properties of the 
secretion from the castor sacs (the ‘castoreum’).  Habitat destruction is considered to 
have been a contributory factor in the decline although this was probably secondary 
to the effects of hunting.  
The demise of the species in Scotland mirrors the pattern of decline elsewhere in 
Europe and, by the end of the 19th century, the European beaver was close to 
extinction across its range. Only three small and isolated relict populations survived 
in western Europe at this time (in Norway, France and Germany). However, re-
introductions and translocations of the species have now taken place in 21 European 
countries.  
The European beaver is the focus of new action over the next 5 years as described  
in the Species Action Framework launched in 2007 by the (then) Scottish Executive 
and petitioned by the public and published by Scottish Natural Heritage.  
 
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is a registered charity founded in 
1909 in Edinburgh  and  currently has a membership of 24,000.  RZSS has  since 
developed its’ two living collections at Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park 
which in total welcome over 700,000 visitors each year.  It has an award-winning 
environmental education programme conducted at its’ two main sites and through a 
nationwide outreach initiative and an extensive international conservation 
programme.   
 
The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) is a registered charity with the objective of 
advancing the conservation of Scotland’s biodiversity for the benefit of present and 
future generations. With over 30,000 members, SWT manages 123 wildlife reserves 
totalling 20,000 hectares, conducts practical conservation work and provides a voice 
for wildlife at national and local levels. The work of the Trust is carried by a 
combination of volunteers and staff. Local presence is provided by a network of 21 
members centres and there are 22 children’s groups. Funding comes from grants, 
membership subscriptions, donations and legacies. 
 
1.1 
Aims 
 
To undertake a scientifically monitored trial re-introduction of the European beaver to 
Knapdale, mid-Argyll, for a five year period in order to: 
 
• 
Study the ecology and biology of the European beaver in the Scottish 
environment 
• 
Assess the effects of beaver activities on the natural and socio-economic 
environment. 
• 
Generate information during the proposed trial release that will inform a 

 
 
 
 

potential further release of beavers at other sites with different habitat 
characteristics;   
• 
Determine the extent and impact of any increased tourism generated through 
the presence of beaver  
• 
Explore the environmental education opportunities that may arise from the trial 
itself and the scope for a wider programme should the trial be successful   
 
 

Statutory and Strategic Framework 
Article 22 of the European Community Directive on the Conservation of Natural 
Habitats and of Wild Flora and Fauna 
(Council Directive 92/43/EEC, the ‘Habitats 
Directive’) states that Member States shall;   
‘study the desirability of re-introducing species  in Annex IV that are native to their 
territory where this might contribute to their conservation, provided that an 
investigation, also taking into account experience in other Member States or 
elsewhere, has established that such re-introductions contributes effectively to re-
establishing these species at a favourable conservation status and that it takes place 
only after proper consultation of the public concerned.’
   
European beaver is listed on Annex IV.  No work is currently planned for the 
restoration of any other species listed in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive. 
The Habitats Directive requires that any restoration should take place only after 
‘proper consultation of the public concerned’.  Such a consultation was undertaken 
by  SNH in 1998 in order to gather views on the desirability and acceptability of 
restoring beaver to Scotland.  The results of this consultation were published by SNH 
(Scott Porter Research & Marketing Ltd, 1998).  A further local consultation was 
undertaken in 2000 once the proposed Knapdale trial site had been announced.  
 
In addition to the original licence application in 2002, further evidence was 
supplied  by SNH  to the then SE in January 2005 in response to questions on the 
impact of beavers on habitat components within the release area.  This case remains 
valid within the context of this licence application and is provided in Annex 3. 
The local consultation was  repeated in the autumn of 2007 prior to this second 
application being submitted, the detail of which is appended as Annex 4 
As described above the European beaver has been included in the SNH Species 
Action Framework with the following justification: 
 “The European beaver meets criterion 1b of the Species Action Framework as a 
species for conservation action. It is listed on Annex IV (and Annex II) of the EC 
Habitats Directive. The Directive requires European Union Member States to study 
the desirability of reintroducing such species where they have become extinct. The 
beaver also qualifies for the Species Action List since we now have a large amount 
of ecological information on the species which can inform management actions. 
Effective species management action can be identified, namely the identification of a 
suitable site and the running of a reintroduction project, subject to the receipt of a 
licence. The beaver is a charismatic species which would serve to raise wider 
biodiversity issues such as riparian woodland management, aspen restoration, 
wetland biodiversity and dead wood habitat. There are few species which have such 
significant influences on ecosystem function and health
” 
 

 
 
 
 

The current proposal for a study is in line with requirements on the UK Government 
under Article 22 of the Habitats Directive to consider the desirability of re-introducing 
species listed on Annex IV.   
 
The current Scottish Forestry Strategy (2006) includes a clear desire to deliver on 
the following biodiversity values: 
 
• Help to halt the loss of biodiversity, and continue to reverse previous losses 
• Increase awareness and public enjoyment of biodiversity, especially close to where      
people live or visit 
• Improve the knowledge of, and evidence base for, biodiversity and ensure 
biodiversity considerations are integrated into decision-making. 
 
 
2.1 
Legal position 
 
As the European beaver is not resident in the wild in Scotland, any animals which are 
released will receive no specific protection under domestic conservation law.   
The beaver is not currently resident within the UK and is not, therefore, covered 
under any domestic legislation.  Consequently it receives no specific legal protection 
in Scotland.   
Current domestic legislation makes it illegal to release to the wild any animal which is 
not ordinarily resident in Great Britain (Section 14 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 
1981 (as amended)).  Any release, therefore, would have to be approved and 
licensed by Government.  
 
The European beaver is currently listed on Annexes II (animal and plant species of 
Community interest whose conservation requires the designation of Special Areas of 
Conservation) and IV (animal species of Community interest in need of strict 
protection) of the Habitats Directive.  This confers wider protection on the European 
beaver where it is currently resident on the Continent but does not oblige protection 
in Britain for a non-resident species.  Given the very limited nature of the current 
study, no proposals are being presented nor thought necessary for any permanent 
amendments to domestic legislation at this stage. 
 
However, in view of this, consideration must be given to the long-term status of the 
species in Britain should the trial be successful then it may become appropriate that 
a case be considered for the addition of the species to the appropriate schedule of 
both the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) (Schedule 5) and The 
Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.,) Regulations 1994 (Schedule 2).  The former 
would be required to implement the Bern Convention in Britain whilst the latter would 
be required to comply with the obligations of the Habitats Directive for a resident 
species.  Decisions on this matter would be a subject for the Scottish Government to 
consider. 
 
Trial animals will remain the property of the project partnership  until such times as 
they are removed (if the trial is unsuccessful) or they are considered to be a resident 
part of the British fauna.  The latter will require an assessment of the species’ status 
following the period of the trial.  This will require full scientific support for 
consideration by the Government. 
The proposal presented by RZSS/SWT is for the release of a small number of 
European beavers at Knapdale Forest to allow a trial re-introduction scientific study.  
Domestic legislation makes it illegal to release into the wild any animal which is of a 
kind not ordinarily resident in Great Britain (Section 14 of the Wildlife & Countryside 

 
 
 
 

Act 1981 (as amended)).  Any restoration, therefore, is subject to approval and 
licence under Section 16 of this Act.  
 
2.2 
Public Consultation  
Work was completed initially to confirm the historical presence of beavers in 
Scotland  (Conroy & Kitchener, 1996).  This was followed by research to identify the 
extent of habitat suitable for beavers across Scotland (Webb et al. 1997) whilst a 
desk-based research study was conducted simultaneously to develop a method of 
assessing specific sites against the suitability for supporting viable beaver 
populations (Macdonald et al 1997).  The likely impacts of beaver occupation on local 
hydrology and native fish populations were investigated through literature reviews 
and collation of information from countries where beavers are already resident 
(Gurnell, 1997; Collen, 1997).  A recent study suggests that the presence and 
activities of beaver have very little negative impact of salmon and sea trout 
reproduction (Parker et al 2007)  
This information was used to support the conduct of the national consultation held in 
1998 (Scottish Natural Heritage, 1998). During the national consultation, the 
proposal was put that a ‘full’ re-introduction of the European beaver take place. 
Three types of survey were undertaken during the consultation; 
1.  In a ‘passive public’ opinion survey involving 2,141 interviews,  63% of the 
general public supported a re-introduction, 12% were against, and 25% had no 
view.  
2.  A total of 1,944 written responses were received during a ‘pro-active public’ 
survey. Overall, 86% of this sample was  in favour of the re-introduction. A 
smaller majority of land managers and those with interests in forestry supported 
re-introduction. However there was a lack of support from those with interests in 
fishing and agriculture.  
3.  A total of 281 consultees were also approached of which 144 (51%) responded. 
Reactions were mixed. Conservation and academic sectors were the most 
supportive, fishing/angling interests the least supportive. 
The outcome of this consultation was subsequently placed in the public domain for 
discussion (Scott Porter Research & Marketing Ltd, 1998). The consultation 
demonstrated that a majority of the public were in favour of a re-introduction but 
certain interest groups raised a number of specific concerns. Consequently, the SNH 
Board agreed in November 1998 to progress with the development of a scientific trial 
re-introduction for a fixed period and in a limited area to test the feasibility and 
effects of beavers being re-introduced to a Scottish environment.  During the national 
consultation process, Forestry Commission  Scotland  (FCS) had suggested that the 
FCS estate could be used for a trial, subject to certain conditions, and this proposal 
was re-visited at a later stage (see below). 
Following the Board decision, further work (Kitchener & Lynch, 2000) was conducted 
to investigate the most suitable source of beavers for re-population of Scotland 
through the comparison of fossil remains in Britain with extant populations in Europe 
and Scandinavia.  A review, commissioned jointly with FCS, collated the evidence on 
the likely impact of beaver presence on woodland habitats (Reynolds, 2000) and a 
predictive model was developed to ascertain the number of animals required for a re-

 
 
 
 

introduction and the potential survival of the released animals (Rushton et al. 2000).  
All of the above information has been published.  
Prior to confirming the site currently proposed (Knapdale Forest), a  Geographic 
Information System (GIS)  study was commissioned by SNH  to identify sites which 
were suitable for a trial release (Carss et al. 1999).  This work refined the earlier 
assessment of suitable habitat, setting additional criteria specific to a trial situation, 
e.g. containment, provision for research on impacts of land uses.  Following this, in 
1999, SNH entered discussions with FCS over the possibility of conducting a trial on 
its land-holding.  Two potentially suitable sites were identified through GIS-analysis 
(see Section 2.1) and were subsequently examined in greater detail (Daniels et al 
2000).  Of these, Knapdale Forest was considered to be the most suitable.  An 
approach was made to FCS  on this basis whereupon the Forestry Commissioners 
agreed in principle to host a trial conducted by SNH, subject to a number of 
conditions which will be linked to a lease agreement for the site in Knapdale Forest. 
The trial will therefore take place on the FCS estate at Knapdale.   
The Scottish Beaver Trial is a collaboration between Scottish Wildlife Trust and The 
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.  There will be two tiers of management for the 
project with initial planning, consultation and national overview being the 
responsibility of the Beaver Steering Group.  The implementation of the work on the 
ground will be the responsibility of the Beaver Project Team.  A stakeholder  forum 
has been established to allow others to feed into the management process. A local 
beaver supporters group will be established and enabled to contribute practically to 
the trial. 
RZSS, SWT, in collaboration with its partner organisations, will maintain an 
engagement with  local community and wider public  through the following 
mechanisms: 
 
• 
regular issue of press releases to local and national media throughout duration 
of trial.  In general we aim to establish a good and open relationship with the 
media, particularly locally; 
• 
co-operate as far as possible with the makers of television documentaries who 
are interested in the project; 
• 
regular issue of a newsletter to the local community throughout the trial; 
• 
the provision of interpretation and educational materials. 
• 
involvement of universities in research projects at Knapdale e.g. for student 
dissertations. 
• 
provision of local interpretation and education for interest groups on-site and 
off-site; 
• 
involvement of the local schools in the project. 
• 
the provision of local volunteering opportunities connected with various aspects 
of the trial. 
• 
 
2.3 
Local Consultation 
A local consultation process in the Knapdale area was initiated in October 2007.  The 
feedback received at the time of production of this licence application is provided in 
annex 4 

 
 
 
 


LOCATION 
3.1 
Site identification 
Work to identify a specific trial site on FCS  land-holdings was undertaken in 2000.  
SNH conducted a  GIS  analysis using data sets produced by the Institute of 
Terrestrial Ecology (ITE)  (Webb  et al.  1997).  A key enhancement of the analysis 
was that an improved woodland dataset (the Millennium Woodland Database) which 
highlighted suitable beaver habitat across Scotland north of the central belt.  This 
distribution was overlaid with FCS  land-holdings data.  While the initial report 
demonstrated that high quality release sites were both numerous and widespread, a 
short list of FCS sites was identified, and for each site a preliminary assessment was 
made as to its ecological and practical suitability.  Following further examination and 
discussions between SNH and FCS  staff, the initial list was shortened to three 
specific sites; Knapdale, Loch Awe and Loch Shiel. 
Knapdale was finally judged to be more suitable for a trial for additional practical and 
logistical reasons and remains the favoured site for the proposed release in 2009. 
3.2 
Knapdale 
SWT have over 25 years of experience of working in partnership with FCS at 
Knapdale and through the work of both staff and local volunteers have extensive 
knowledge of this particular area. 
The proposed trial site includes a SSSI (Knapdale Woods SSSI), notified for its 
breeding birds, bryophytes, lichens, dragonflies, loch trophic ranges and upland oak 
woodland.  It is also part of a wider SAC (Taynish and Knapdale Woods) put forward 
for its oak woodland, freshwater lochs, marsh fritillary butterfly Euphydryas aurinia 
and otter Lutra lutra interests.  At the time of the previous licence application in 2002 
an ‘appropriate assessment’ of the proposed trial at Taynish and Knapdale Woods 
SAC was undertaken, in terms of Articles 6.3 and 6.4 of the Habitats Directive, as 
enacted through Regulations 48 and 49 of the Conservation (Natural  Habitats etc.) 
Regulations 1994 (the ‘Habitats Regulations’), for the trial re-introduction of the 
European beaver Castor fiber to Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC.. On the basis 
of the analysis undertaken, it was considered there will be no adverse impact on site 
integrity as a result of the trial re-introduction of the European beaver to Knapdale. 
To provide further reassurance, particularly regarding cumulative impacts which 
cannot be precisely modelled in advance, a monitoring programme will form an 
integral part of the trial.  This will measure overall changes, if any, in each qualifying 
feature against baselines established before the trial begins. The results will be 
formally assessed against the conservation objectives every 6 months.  An exit 
strategy (see Section 7.6) for the project has been incorporated into the project in 
case the trial needs to be terminated at any time. 
The Knapdale peninsula (see map in annex 1) in mid Argyll is bounded to the north 
by the Crinan Canal, the south by east and west Loch Tarbet, on the east by Loch 
Fyne and on the west by the Sound of Jura.  The landform of the northern part of the 
locality containing the trial site, Knapdale Forest, is dominated by a unique 
landscape comprising a whole series of northeast  –  southwest  aligned  ridges 
(knaps) and small valleys (dales) which range in altitude from sea level to 276 m.  
The western sea bound and central sections of Knapdale Forest (the ‘core area’ 
where the beavers will be released, OS grid reference NR7990) are heavily bisected 
by  the knaos and a series of sea and freshwater lochs.  The freshwater bodies 
extend from small lochan up to 2 km long lochs which are interconnected and 

 
 
 
 

drained by small burns streams draining to the sea in a southern direction.   
The semi-natural vegetation of Knapdale in the late 19th  century comprised a 
complex mosaic of broadleaf woodland dominated by abandoned oak coppice and 
small patches of improved grazing (and arable fields).  The higher elevation land 
was comprised of Calluna/Molinia  dominated  by  heather and grass  sheep  walks.  
20th century afforestation by the FC mainly in the 1930s-50s, but continuing up until 
the early 1980s, resulted in Knapdale Forest.  A range of conifer species primarily 
Norway and Sitka spruce were established on open ground and as a replacement for 
broadleaf woods which were felled, inter and under planted.  From 1985 onwards 
following a major review of broadleaf forest policy a major programme of conifer 
harvesting and felling to recycle has taken place in the core area of native woodland 
in Knapdale.  This has been accompanied by a major effort by FCS  forest ranger 
staff to reduce the resident deer population from levels in excess of 20 deer per km2.  
This has resulted in significant levels of natural regeneration of native woodland.  
Broadleaves, predominantly birch Betula  spp., and to a lesser extent willow Salix 
spp., alder Alnus glutinosa  and hazel Corylus avellana  are mainly associated with 
the lochs.  Oak Quercus spp., sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus and scattered aspen 
Populus tremula  also occur but are mostly confined to the Fairy Isle and Bàrr Mor 
peninsulas in the south west of the area.  
The core area of the site for the beaver trial, which is dominated by the 
interconnecting freshwater loch system and associated broadleaf-dominated 
woodland, covers approximately 15km2. Within this there is currently about 15km of 
riparian habitat suitable for beaver.   This figure is expected to increase  as FCS 
continue their programme of habitat restoration.  The landform and resultant 
hydrology coupled with the distribution of forest and riparian habitats suitable for 
beavers will provide a reasonable prospect of natural containment.  The  steep 
escarpment along the north boundary, the conifer plantations to the east and west 
and the saltwater lochs to the south and west are the main barriers to beaver 
movements.  The short watercourses are the likely routes for beaver movement 
around the site although beavers have been recorded moving short distances across 
seawater when dispersing.  
The area also forms part of the North Knapdale National Scenic Area and the forest 
also hosts a number of low key FCS  recreation facilities comprising an information 
and interpretation centre, a series of walking and cycling trails and several public car 
parks.   
The site has been notified as  a SSSI and is part of a wider SAC (Taynish and 
Knapdale Woods) put forward for its oak woodland, freshwater loch, marsh fritillary 
butterfly Euphydryas aurinia and otter Lutra lutra interests.  The area also lies within 
the North Knapdale National Scenic Area.  The forest also hosts a number of low key 
FE recreation facilities comprising an information and interpretation point, a series of 
walking and cycling trails with onsite interpretation.  The lochs are fished by local 
angling associations.  The whole site is subject to FCS’s policy of open access 
exercised under the FCS  bylaws.  These access and recreational opportunities are 
important locally as a resource for communities and tourists.  Knapdale is a working 
forest where a range of forest operations will be ongoing.  These will be undertaken 
in accordance with a forest design plan approved by FCS following consultation with 
key stakeholders (including SNH) and local communities.  The SSSI/pSAC are 
managed in accordance with a specific plan agreed by SNH.  All forest management 
is undertaken to the standards set by the UK Forest Standard and UK Woodland 
Assurance Scheme independently audited by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).  

 
 
 
 

The Knapdale Forest, like much of the surrounding area is rich in archaeological 
history and remains.  The trial area contains 13 Scheduled Ancient Monuments 
(SAMs) and 125 Unscheduled Ancient Monuments (USAMs).  All scheduled sites are 
recognised within the forest design plan and are  covered by legally binding SAM 
management plans between FCS and the national governing body, Historic Scotland.  
The trial partners will work with Historic Scotland to ensure that the trial causes no 
significant detrimental impact upon the sites’ archaeological heritage. 
 
In light of the fact that FCS are continuing  with  its  programme of conifer removal 
within much of the potential trial area; the deer population is under control and 
regeneration of native woodland is good.  The Knapdale Forest  has the following 
advantages as a trial site: 
 
• 
it is ecologically suitable for beaver; 
• 
it provides a range of terrestrial and freshwater habitats and species which can 
be evaluated 
• 
natural containment is relatively good; 
• 
it is a working forest, which will allow an assessment of beaver presence on 
forestry practices; 
• 
there is one main owner, FCS; 
• 
there is good access for field workers and visitors; 
• 
local SNH and FCS offices are nearby; 
• 
local people are generally supportive and interested (see details below); 
• 
visitor facilities are already on site; 
• 
visitor disturbance is likely to be low in the core part of trial site; 
• 
Knapdale is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and therefore there may be 
opportunities to seek relevant European funding. 
 
3.3 
Release points 
 
Three beaver families will be released in Knapdale at suitable release points that are 
adequately far apart to provide each colony with sufficient riparian habitat in its 
territory.  This has to take into account the fact that beavers set up a territory that 
they will defend.  Territory sizes vary depending on a number of variables but colony 
densities of 1.5, 0.5 and 0.1 colonies per km length have been estimated in good, 
quite good and mediocre beaver habitat in Europe.  Based on published information 
and the views of Norwegian specialists who have seen the site, the quality of habitat 
at Knapdale is considered to be relatively good, but it remains to be seen what 
territory size the beavers establish.  However RZSS will continually review the 
viability of this population and if necessary, augment with addition imported animals 
The three initial release points are: 
1. Creagmhor Area 
This site comprises Creagmhor Loch (about 1.2km of bank) and an ‘un-named loch’ 
(about 0.5km of bank) immediately to the west, together with associated inflow, 
outflow burns.  The un-named loch has softer banks than Creagmhor and probably 
provides a greater extent of suitable riparian bank into which the beavers could 
burrow.  The south west outflow end of Creagmhor provides the greatest extent of 
soft riparian bank in this water body.  The two lochs are not connected but are 
separated by about 70- 80m and a gentle ridge dominated by mature heather.  It is 
likely that the beavers will be able to move between these two water bodies - 
however, if released at Creagmhor, it may take some time for them to move to the 

 
 
 
 

un-named loch since there is no connecting burn.  Movement by beavers from 
Creagmhor may also take place along the outflow burn in a SW direction. 
The un-named loch is close to Loch Fidhle to the west, and is connected by its 
outflow stream.  However there is a steep 25-30m drop between the two water 
bodies which may be sufficient to put off beavers moving downstream. 
2. Loch Linne Area 
The site comprises Loch Linne and the connected Loch Fidhle (about 4km of bank).  
There is a peaty peninsula between the two lochs that  may be particularly suitable 
for a burrow/lodge site.  The loch is extensive and appears to have good quality 
habitat, perhaps even sufficient to hold two or, even, three colonies. 
3. Loch Coille Bharr 
Loch Coille Bharr is the largest of the freshwater lochs highlighted for release and 
has at least 5km of wooded riparian bank..  A footpath goes around the loch but is 
quite distant from the shore at some sections at the SW end.  Beaver specialists 
from Norway have suggested that this loch will be able to support two colonies of 
beavers (Duncan Halley, pers. comm.). 
It should be noted that none of these lochs are feeder lochs for the Crinan Canal.  
 
The extent of suitable habitat has been shown to be more than adequate for the 
three beaver families to be translocated to the site, and will allow for some expansion 
of the population within Knapdale.  This has been confirmed by beaver specialists 
who have seen the site. The site should be sufficient to allow for any expansion of 
the beaver population over the five year field trial period. Experience with other 
European re-introductions has shown considerable variability in population increase 
rates.  
Knapdale has relatively good natural containment. It is bordered to the north by a 
ridge, with most watercourses around the release sites flowing in a general southerly 
direction towards the coastline. The west and east sides are bordered by high 
density conifer plantation and are not suitable beaver habitat. Since beavers tend to 
restrict their movements to riparian areas, it is hoped that they will therefore stay 
within the Knapdale catchment while the carrying capacity of the site allows. 
An agreement on behalf of the project partnership of RZSS and SWT has been 
drawn up with Forest Commission Scotland to accommodate the trial release on FCS 
property at Knapdale. 
 

BUSINESS CASE 
Following the consultation process the period of the trial following release of the 
beavers in Spring 2009 was increased from three to five years. For costing purposes 
the total length of the project is six years starting April 2008.  
The total cost of the project is approximately £1,292k. A full breakdown of the 
estimated costs are provided in Annex 2. A major element of this cost is for 
10 
 
 
 
 

monitoring and research (£655k) the majority of which will be led, carried out and 
paid for by SNH. Should the licence be granted discussions will be held with SNH to 
quantify this figure more accurately. 
In addition the budget for interpretation and communication of the project has been 
increased substantially (£140k) again to reflect feedback from the consultation 
exercise. 
The Licence applicants anticipate funding the cost of this project from fundraising. 
Initial soundings from a variety of foundations, trusts and other organisations indicate 
a high level of enthusiasm for this project. Mammals Trust (UK) (PTES) has 
indicated that it would be prepared to commit approximately £150k to the project. 
 

PUBLIC HEALTH 
5.1 
Disease and water quality 
Beavers, like all wild mammals, have the potential to transmit disease. They have 
been associated in the public press with the human water borne diseases caused by 
Giardia and Cryptosporidium,  and the fish parasite Gyrodactylus salaris.  The former 
two are already present in Scotland and are an issue in terms of public health whilst 
the latter is an issue for fisheries. It is difficult, of course, to assess to what extent, if 
any, beavers will pose an increased/additional risk to public health through the 
spread of disease as there is little information from Europe on this subject. However, 
the pathogens listed above will be sampled for during the course of the quarantine 
period of the beavers to ensure that the released animals are disease free.  
The question of disease-free animals being infected after release to the wild 
obviously poses a question of whether their presence enhances transmission of 
disease above that usually encountered.  For this reason, RZSS and SWT  will be 
working in partnership with the Public Health Department of Argyll and Bute Council, 
(ABC), to ensure regular monitoring of the area as part of the regime of public health 
control.  Sampling was conducted in 2001 and will be repeated prior to any approval 
to release of beavers in order to obtain baseline data for comparison.  A range of 
pathogens will be tested for within this programme.  The design of protocols for 
public health monitoring is being led by Argyll and Bute Council and a quote for this 
work is expected in due course.. In terms of any impacts on water quality and/or 
water supplies RZSS/SWT  will be guided by advice from ABC and Scottish Water.  
During the course of the trial, water quality samples will also be analysed from 
appropriate control sites in order to detect  whether  contamination occurs in the 
absence of beavers.     
The concern has also been raised that the introduction of beavers will result in the 
introduction of G. salaris  to our native population of salmon.  However, the advice 
received indicates that this is a parasite of fish which requires a fish host to survive.  
Beavers are considered to be only potential external carriers of the parasite (i.e. G. 
salaris  
does not parasitise beavers).  Government precautions will be followed to 
ensure that any animals are free from the parasite before leaving quarantine. Subject 
to approval of this licence aplication, animals will be taken from a Norwegian 
population which is currently reported as being in an area free of G. salaris. 
11 
 
 
 
 


Impact 
6.1 
Environmental Education  
The first UK beaver reintroduction offers a unique opportunity for both media interest 
in the progress of the beaver families in Knapdale and for environmental education 
programmes locally and via appropriate electronic media.  The RZSS  education 
programme  has been developed and is delivered by a team of expert Education 
Officers.  It has  experience of teaching all age and ability groups, developing 
educational activities for zoo visitors, and of field work in the UK and abroad. In 2007 
RZSS  was awarded the prestigious Sandford Award, by the Heritage Education 
Trust in recognition of our commitment and expertise in education supporting our 
natural heritage.  
Throughout the trial ‘Bringing Beavers Back’ a dedicated RZSS module aimed at 
schools will be conducted both at the living collections and through the national 
outreach programme. 
One of SWT’s principal objectives is to encourage people to see, learn and enjoy 
wildlife and to create opportunities for greater involvement in wildlife conservation. It 
has significant experience in informal and formal education programmes involving its 
extensive network of wildlife reserves, visitor centres, ,children’s groups, local 
members centres, volunteers  and a wide range of public events, publications and 
electronic media. 
 
The Forestry Commission operates its Forest Education Initiative which also has the 
capacity to communicate the story of beavers in Scotland. 
The scope for a new on-site visitor centre for interpreting beavers in Knapdale has 
been considered and offers  an ideal platform for local interpretation and public 
engagement and as a hub for beaver-oriented wildlife tourism.    
The project will have the opportunity to establish measures for understanding public 
opinion regarding the return of beavers as well as the general rehabilitation of 
Scotland’s natural heritage.  The re-establishment of a number of raptor species in 
Scotland has captured a sense of responsibility and ownership towards key habitats 
and species.  The continuation of this process is paramount for the achievement of 
the 2030 Vision of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. 
6.2   Socio-economic 
One of the aims of the trial release is to determine the extent and impact of any 
increased tourism generated through the presence of beaver.   
A recent report to the Wild Britain Initiative illustrates the potential positive socio-
economic impact that beavers could have across the UK and is appended in Annex 6 
to this application. 
The Argyll and Bute Council has identified the following objectives in its Corporate 
Plan 2007-2011 and beyond: 
 
Argyll and Bute: Leading Rural Area  
Vibrant Communities 
• safe supportive communities with positive culture and sense of pride in the area 
12 
 
 
 
 

• vibrant local economy that is based on core attributes of the area, flexible and open 
to new opportunities 
• a sense of history with a view to the future 
• high quality public services and leisure/community facilities that attract people to 
settle in Argyll and Bute 
Outstanding Environment 
• high quality environment that is valued, recognised and protected 
• the environment is respected as a valued asset that can provide sustainable 
opportunities for business 
• an area that is accessible, yet retains its remote character 
Forward Looking 
• communities that are culturally rich with a desire to excel 
• proactive communities where local people and organisations look for and create 
opportunities 
• partnership working across all sectors to coordinate developments, market Argyll 
and Bute and remove constraints that limit 
possibilities 
• communities that learn and use that knowledge 
 
Tourism plays a major role in the local economy. There are significant opportunities 
to further develop tourism in Argyll and Bute, with an emphasis on the area as a 
‘quality destination’ using the distinctive character of the area and key events to 
create higher quality jobs and to extend the tourism season 
 
In the Scottish Executive strategy on tourism:  Scottish Tourism -  The Next Decade 
recognizes  the importance of tourism as  Scotland’s biggest business –  and 
emphasises the need for business entrepreneurship, product development and 
innovation. The wider Scottish tourism industry employs more than 200,000 people, 
contributes about £4.2 billion to the economy each year, and has ambitious plans for 
growth (a 50% increase in tourism revenue by 2015). 
A recent study by Campbell et al (2007) suggest that the cost of damage caused by 
beavers in mainland Europe was rarely more than €10,000 per annum, per region. 
The study estimates that the potential revenue from beaver based wildlife tourism in 
Scotland alone would exceed £1.1million.    
6.3    Biodiversity  
Over the past decade Scotland has reinforced it’s commitment to nature 
conservation through a series publications.  In the 1997 document Biodiversity in 
Scotland: The Way Forward
, produced by The Scottish Office, it states that ‘The 
Government is committed to taking action in partnership with others to safeguard 
and where possible to enhance Scotland’s biodiversity’.  This commitment is further 
emphasised in Scottish Executive’s 2001 policy statement The Nature of Scotland 
‘We are committed to sustainable development as part of all our policies, and a 
commitment to Scotland’s biodiversity is an essential part of that’. Launched in 2004 
The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy sets the stage for achieving a 2030 vision of 
Scotland as a world leader in biodiversity conservation.  More recently the SNH 
Species Action Framework identifies the possible reintroduction of the European 
beaver as one of the priority actions for Scotland. 
Beavers are a missing element of our native biodiversity and were lost due to human 
activities.  Arguments have been proposed, therefore, that we have a moral 
responsibility to consider their restoration.  However, beavers are also important 
keystone species in forest and riparian ecosystems.  Their role as waterway 
13 
 
 
 
 

engineers - modifying their environment to make it more suitable for them to live in - 
has measurable benefits to other species.  This is perhaps most significant through 
the creation of beaver ponds behind dams and through their foraging habits.  Beaver 
ponds can act as sediment traps on rivers, help to reduce floods by increasing water 
storage, help to neutralise acid run-off, provide extra food and pools for fish, and 
create additional habitat for other aquatic wildlife.  Their foraging behaviour can 
result in a coppiced woodland-type habitat in riparian areas, prevent the invasion by 
scrub of valuable wetlands and provide dead wood for invertebrates.  Therefore if re-
introduced they would have a beneficial effect on Scotland’s wider biodiversity also.    
While no causal relationship was found, Elmeros et al (2003)  reported an increase 
in otters following the successful reintroduction of beavers in Denmark.  

PROJECT PLAN 
 
7.1 
Donor Country 
 
7.1.1  Source population  
 
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has strict Guidelines 
on the reintroduction of species.  The guidelines recommend that, as far as possible, 
the taxonomically closest population should be used in any re-introduction.  SNH are 
following these guidelines, hence a report (Kitchener & Lynch, 2000) was 
commissioned to study the morphometric comparison of the skull of fossil British and 
extant European beavers, Castor fiber.  The general conclusion of this study was 
that the skulls of Scandinavian beavers are the most morphologically similar to fossil 
British beavers. 
A concern about using Scandinavian beavers for a re-introduction is that they 
are based on few founders from a Norwegian relict population and display low 
genetic diversity.  However, researchers have not observed any problems in an 
intensively  studied population in southern Norway that can be linked to low genetic 
diversity.  
 
7.1.2  Environmental factors 
 
Kitchener & Lynch (2000) recommended that it would ‘perhaps be beneficial to select 
animals which survive in a similar climate with a similar selection of food plants and 
trees’. Telemark County, the proposed location of the source of beavers for the 
project, is in a relatively mild region of Norway and, although winter temperatures are 
lower than mid Argyll, it is anticipated that animals from this area will readily adapt. 
Beavers are highly opportunistic with respect to food plant choice would be able to 
utilise similar vegetation types in Scotland. Another advantage of using Scandinavian 
animals is that they will have adapted to a similar pattern of photoperiodism as found 
in Scotland.   
 
7.1.3  Practical issues 
 
Collection of donor stock will be done in conjunction with staff from  Telemark 
College, Norwegian University of Science and Technology,.  This offers a number of 
benefits: 
 
•  The participation of experienced and respected beaver ecologists  
•  The availability of animals which have a known life history.  This may include the 
possibility of obtaining animals which are already implanted with radio 
transmitters (subject to equipment compatibility), thus reducing such intervention 
at a later stage.  Many of the animals will also be tagged externally (ear-tags); 
14 
 
 
 
 

•  The opportunity to select animals from rivers known to be free of diseases, such 
as Gyrodactylus salsii and Giardia
•  There is a history of co-operation on re-introduction work between Norway and 
Scotland.  Norway provided the donor stock of White-tailed Eagles for the 
successful Scottish re-introduction (1968, 1975 -1985 and subsequently). 
 
 
The main issues which will arise with the use of Norwegian animals are  the more 
complex importation requirements due to the non-EU status of Norway. However 
RZSS has extensive experience in the movement of animals throughout the wider 
European region and has already been granted a licence for the import of wild 
caught beaver from Norway. 
 
7.2 
Procurement of release animals   
 
  A minimum of three family groups of beavers  will be removed from the donor 
population  and transported during autumn 2008 and retained in quarantine for six 
months, with a view to a release in spring the following year. 
 
Family units of beavers consist of four to six animals on average (an adult 
pair, and up to two or three offspring of the current year and one or two offspring of 
the previous year).  This would result in the capture of up to about 18 animals .  
 
There is inevitably some risk that during the quarantine period there may be some 
animal mortality. RZSS and SWT, after consultation with relevant specialists, would 
consider not releasing any family to Knapdale which loses one or both adults during 
the quarantine period  (the surviving animals from these families would instead have 
to be returned to the donor country or housed in a collection). Norwegian 
researchers currently use hand-netting as their preferred means of capturing 
animals.  This is considered to be an efficient and safe means of obtaining target 
animals whilst they are fully visible (thereby minimising capture stress and risk). The 
use of targeted hand-netting may, however, incur additional time and expense to 
ensure the capture of whole family units.  All efforts will be made to ensure whole 
family units are collected. 
 
7.3 
Quarantine 
 
The importation of beavers falls under the Rabies (importation of Cats, Dogs and 
Other Mammals) Order 1974 (as amended).  Consequently imported animals would 
be subject to statutory containment in approved quarantine facilities for a period of 
six months.    
Prior to departure from country of origin all release animals will have 
undergone appropriate health screening to reduce substantially the risk of carriage of 
animal borne disease or the transportation of animals in suboptimal health. An 
appropriate quarantine facility has been identified. 
7.4 
Release 
Prior to release all animals will be fitted with a number of identifying and tracking 
features.  Each beaver will have numbered ear tags, radio-tags fitted to the tail and 
subcutaneous microchip responders should external tags fail or be lost. Two options 
are available for the release of animals: ‘hard release’ or ‘soft release’. ‘Hard release’ 
involves the direct release of animals to the wild from the transit cages. It presents a 
more cost-effective method of release but has the potential to expose the animals to 
greater stress, and thereby possibly enhanced susceptibility to disease and mortality 
factors.  ‘Soft release’ involves the use of artificial lodge structures to provide shelter 
15 
 
 
 
 

for released animals.  Whilst this is a more expensive and time-consuming method, it 
provides the potential to i) reduce stress to the animals by providing instant shelter 
and ii) reduce the need for animals to seek out shelter iii) reduce the risk of animals 
moving away from the specific re-introduction loch site.   
 
The project will implement both soft and hard release approaches and take 
the opportunity to compare the efficacy of both methods at different release points.  
 
7.5 
Beaver Management  
 
7.5.1  Containment options 
 
It is important to reiterate that this application is for a licence to conduct a trial 
release of beavers in Knapdale.  As such, the requirement for appropriate project 
staff on the ground is paramount.  There will be adequate project staff based in 
Argyll to conduct the day to day management of the trial and to respond to emergent 
needs as they occur.  Additional support staff will be available from both SWT and 
RZSS should interventions occur such as the capture of beavers moving outwith the 
release site. 
The primary aim of the trial is to establish, for study, a population of beavers 
within an agreed study site. However, as the beaver is a mobile species, there can 
be no guarantee (despite the provision of artificial lodges) that they will remain 
faithful to this particular site on release.  Consequently provision is in place for 
deliberate containment of the animals. 
Several methods are available by which the movement of released animals may be 
restricted (see below).  Each of these methods presents some risk of animals 
escaping from the site undetected.  Consequently, it must be recognised that there is 
no absolutely assured method of confining the animals.  In accepting this principle, a 
priority of the trial is to ensure sufficient staff and resources are available to enable 
efficient monitoring of each of the animals following release  both within and 
immediately surrounding the trial site. 

There are three main approaches to containing released animals: 
 
• 
physical barriers, e.g. fencing, 
• 
habitat manipulation or 
• 
capture and removal of animals straying beyond the accepted boundaries of 
the study. 
 
Given the size of site which is required to investigate the characteristics of dispersal, 
it is unlikely that the integrity of a fence of sufficient length could be maintained at the 
standard required for containment.  Nor is it desirable given that the primary purpose 
of the trial is to study beavers in the wild. Thus, whilst fencing may be suitable for 
fencing particular  outflows of the release lochs initially and for small areas for other 
management reasons, this is not a viable option to restrict animal movement over, or 
from, the whole study site. 
Habitat manipulation to deter/attract beavers along preferred routes has also been 
considered.  However, given the capacity of the species to modify its environment to 
suit its needs, such an approach is likely to be costly and meet with limited success.  
Consideration should be given to investigating this method as a tool in  long-term 
management, but it cannot be relied upon as a sole method of containment. 
The third option, for the identification and removal of animals straying beyond the 
16 
 
 
 
 

agreed boundaries of the study, although expensive, is potentially the most reliable 
and efficient method of containment available. This is the option which will be used at 
Knapdale. All the released adult animals will be radio tagged individually for the 
purpose of identification and tracking, which will significantly increase the likelihood 
of detecting individual movements over an extended period of time (consideration is 
also being given to the use of remote data logging equipment capable of storing data 
from a number of antennae simultaneously).  
 
7.5.2  Movement of animals outwith the trial area 
 
The likelihood of individual detection by this method is particularly feasible given the 
limited number of animals which are required for the trial study.  
 
It is still very likely that some animals will try to move outwith the trial area. The 
released  animals will be radio-tagged and so any such movements should be 
detected, whereupon they will be trapped and retrieved.  However, due to the 
possibility of tags failing, or young animals dispersing prior to being tagged, the 
possibility of un-tagged animals moving beyond the area must be considered. The 
tendency of the animals to remain close to the water and leave obvious feeding and 
engineering signs will assist with finding animals outwith the agreed boundary. In 
such cases, it is anticipated that the individual beavers would be reported to SNH 
within a relatively short period, aided by liaison with adjacent land owners and 
managers e.g. farmers, British Waterways staff (who manage Crinan Canal north of 
Knapdale), anglers, FCS staff, etc. Training in beaver ecology and behaviour will be 
offered at a local level by SWT and RZSS early on within the trial, in order to assist 
local landowners and managers recognise beaver field signs. 
 
 
Whilst every effort will be made to contain the animals within the study  area, 
provision will be made for the rapid and efficient removal of animals straying outwith 
the trial area.  This will be implemented where animals take up residence in an area 
against the wishes of the landowner, or are considered to be causing unacceptable 
levels of damage.  
 
Beaver trapping techniques have been well tested on the Continent.  The safest and 
most efficient techniques are netting and the use of a cage-type trap.  The latter has 
been developed by beaver specialists in Germany and is based on traps used for 
foxes and badgers.  It can be used on land or in shallow water, is easy to set, and 
does not harm the animals or people.  A similar system was deployed  successfully 
by RZSS to retrieve a beaver found to be at large in Perthshire in August 2007. 
 
Netting techniques have been developed in Norway.  This involves the use of hand 
held nets used from boats or on land to trap the beavers.  Netting is generally 
undertaken at night and spotlights used to locate the animals.  This, too, has been 
found to be an effective technique, particularly in lochs and large river systems. 
 
Trapping will be by the use of live-traps set on beaver runs.  Trapped beavers will be 
returned to the trial area.  It is anticipated that most animals will be returned to the 
location from which they strayed.  However, in the case of unidentified animals (see 
above), suitable sites will be sought within the study area for re-release.  Radio-tags 
will be checked, or fitted to untagged animals, to investigate the incidence of repeat 
offenders. 
Movement of such animals will take into account the social nature of the 
species and, therefore, the need for integration into existing areas or social groups. 
17 
 
 
 
 

Alternatively they may be housed in a collection (previous agreement will be sought 
with the host quarantine facility to house a maximum number of straying animals). 
Under circumstances where these options are not available, the animals will have to 
be humanely destroyed (see below). 
 
Whatever situation arises a holding enclosure will  be made available by RZSS for 
transfer of animals from the trial to the captivity site. 
 
The situation may arise when trapping is either unsuitable or unsuccessful for the 
removal of beavers from outwith the trial site.  In this situation, animals will be darted 
or shot (experience from mainland Europe indicates that beavers are easy to control 
in this way).  Shooting would be used as a last resort for any ‘untrappable’ beavers, 
where a landowner/manager requests rapid removal of the animal (and the 
conditions preclude trapping as an efficient means), or where no other way is 
identified of dealing with the situation.   
 
7.6 
Exit strategy 
 
An exit strategy is an integral part of the project plan, although the Steering Group 
firmly believe that this will be a successful project. This may be implemented either 
during the trial if major insurmountable problems occur, or at the end of the trial. The 
reasons for considering implementation of an exit strategy are as follows: 
 
1.  Unsustainable and detrimental effects arise  as a result of the re-introduction of 
beavers to the trial area; 
 
2.  There is an insupportable level of mortality in released animals as a result of 
persecution, human intervention or natural mortality attributed to trial procedures; 
 
3.  The security of the site is compromised to the serious detriment of the animals. 
 
These criteria apply equally to forestry, agriculture, fishery,  archaeological  or 
conservation interests, as well as presenting options for implementation of an exit 
strategy where there appears to  be serious risk to the health or status of released 
animals or their progeny. 
 
There are four options described below: 
 
Option 1: Repatriation of animals to the country of origin/transfer to other re-
introduction programmes. 
 
Option 2:  Housing of animals in zoological collections 
 
Option 3: Capturing, neutering and returning animals to live their life span in the wild. 
 
Option 4: Humane control of animals 
 
Methods of humane control are well known and the option would require the 
collection, or hunting, of all known animals for destruction. 
 
Although relatively easy to implement, the ethical issues surrounding the control of 
animals introduced for the purpose of a scientific experiment need to be considered 
carefully.   
 
18 
 
 
 
 

 
 
7.7 
Research and monitoring strategy 
 
The research and monitoring programme has four main objectives: 
 
•  To determine the impact of beavers on the natural landscape and ecological 
components of the release site including mink; 
 
•  To ensure that any success or failure of the trial is measurable; 
 
•  To provide data for the purpose of informing a predictive model of any 
subsequent expansion of the trial or full nationwide beaver reintroduction.  
 
•  To contribute to our understanding of beaver biology 
 
•  To determine the socio-economic impact of the beavers in the local area 
through its contribution to tourism, employment etc  
 
 
Upon granting of the licence and in conjunction with SNH, the initial priority for 
the research programme will be to establish baseline data on the main biotic 
indicators as described in sections 7.7.4 to 7.7.7. 
With regard to the designated status of the Knapdale area, all bar one of the 
notified features of the SSSI and SAC have already had baseline Site Condition 
Monitoring carried out on them by SNH within the past five years. 
 
An effective monitoring programme is imperative to ensure that sufficient and 
appropriate information is collated during the trial to underpin an informed decision 
on the feasibility and viability of restoring a widespread population of beavers to 
Scotland.  Moreover, in order to ensure that the monitoring programme is effective, a 
protocol will be in place prior to the release of any animals to the study area. 
Regular measurements will be made on the health and status of the beaver 
population, their behaviour  and changes to environmental conditions locally both 
prior to and following the release of beavers.  Subsequent comparison of this 
information will identify changes to local landscapes which may be attributed to 
specific aspects of beaver occupation or behaviour.  
 
The use of GIS will play an important role throughout the whole project in the 
interrogation, analysis and presentation of data. Initially all existing survey 
information will be collated and, where appropriate, placed on GIS.  The identification 
of release sites and habitat suitability has employed the use of GIS in a recent study 
in Austria (Maringer & Slotta Bachmyer 2006). 
 
A paper entitled ‘Trial Re-Introduction Of The European Beaver To Scotland: 
Scientific Issues’ was submitted to SNH’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) for 
consideration.  A review of the findings of this paper is required  
 
The presence of beavers in Scotland will also provide the opportunity to extend 
studies into aspects of beaver biology such as selective foraging (Haarberg & Rosell 
2006), territorial scent marking (Rosell & Thomsen 2006), (Rosell & Sander 2006), 
(Kaltenegger D, 2003),   territory and group size (Campbell et al 2005), space use 
and movement patterns (Herr & Rosell 2004)  
 
19 
 
 
 
 

7.7.1  Animal Health 
The Beaver Project Team  will be responsible for the health and welfare of the 
released animals and their progeny throughout the trial. Wherever possible, remote, 
non-invasive techniques will  be  used to assess  the health status of individuals.  
Analysis of faecal material will provide information on gut parasite burden and 
cortisol as a measure of stress.  Similar research will be conducted in Norway to 
provide comparative benchmarking data. 
Individual release animals will be recaptured on an annual basis in order to assess 
overall body condition, external parasite load, dentition and the measurement of 
blood parameters.   
 
7.7.2  Beaver ecology 
 
Individual adult animals will be tagged, for the purpose of tracking and identification.  
Information on their health and status will be collected at regular intervals.  The 
following parameters will be measured: 
 
•  Survival; 
•  Breeding success/fecundity; 
•  Distribution/dispersal; 
•  Interactions with other species. 
•  Understanding the biology of beavers. 
 
Measurements of these elements will be made using field observations.  Tagging of 
new individuals will require trapping and handling at suitable periods.  In addition, the 
information collated through practical observations and surveys will provide a dataset 
which may be used to refine the accuracy of the initial predictive population model. 
The distribution and habitat use by beavers will be monitored, providing information 
on  
 
•  Feeding areas; 
•  Types of food; 
•  Use of burrows and lodges. 
 
As well as observing the impact of beavers on land use, measurements will be made 
to ascertain the impact of such activities on beavers, e.g. forestry practice and 
angling activities. 
 
7.7.3  British Waterways 
 
Close liaison with British Waterways staff will be a key part of the project in order to 
identify potential problems at an early stage.  Potentially vulnerable sites, e.g. supply 
lochs and inflow/outflow burns, will be checked on a regular basis by project staff, 
and there will also be regular liaison with British Waterways staff. 
 
7.7.4  Damming behaviour 
 
In order to gauge the impacts of any dams built, it will be necessary to measure the 
frequency of construction and maintenance of beaver dams.  Consequently, the 
following will be investigated during the course of the trial period: 
20 
 
 
 
 

 
• 
frequency of dam construction; 
• 
seasonality of dam construction; 
• 
method and dimensions of dam construction; 
• 
the relative stability (longevity) of dams; 
• 
the potential for major sediment pulses and downstream erosion as a result of 
single or multiple dam failures. 
• 
effect of dam building on surrounding habitat (e.g. tree removal, flooding 
impacts) 
• 
the efficacy of management removal of dams as a means controlling undesired 
dam locations  
 
Measurement of these elements will be carried out primarily through direct, non-
invasive observations.  Information on  dam construction will be associated with 
habitat information (see below) to determine any characteristics commonly 
attributable to siting or construction of dams. 
 
7.7.5  Terrestrial and aquatic habitats 
 
As well as monitoring the success/failure of the establishment of the beaver 
population, information will be collated at regular intervals from which to assess the 
ecological effects of beaver occupation locally. This will be measured on two scales; 
changes within the core range of beaver colonies, and gross changes at the level of 
the study site. 
 
Terrestrial vegetation surveys will be undertaken in the riparian areas, and more 
detailed information will be collected on the distribution and abundance of tree 
species which beavers may use for food or engineering purposes. Detailed habitat 
maps prepared prior to the release of beavers will be used to record changes to the 
landscape during the course of the study.  These will take into account any seasonal 
effects or trends in foraging behaviour noted throughout the course of the trial period 
(tracking changes through release and establishment phases).  Existing information 
is currently being collated and new surveys are planned for spring 2008. 
 
Parallel to the early stages of the proposed trial a separate activity is to be conducted 
under the obligations of the EU Water Framework Directive.   Across Scotland, and 
specifically Argyll, River Basin Management Plans are to be drafted and subjected to 
consultation.   The information generated through the monitoring of the  beaver trial 
reintroduction will inform and make reference to the RBMP process and objectives. 
      
A co-ordinated programme of work to effectively monitor the aquatic and semi-
aquatic habitat over the trial period will be developed by April 2008. This will include 
the development of methods for monitoring aquatic/semi-aquatic macrophytes, water 
chemistry/quality and freshwater invertebrates at Knapdale during the trial period 
which will contribute towards an assessment of the effect of the beaver re-
introduction to Knapdale. The programme will ensure the monitoring of these aquatic 
features is done in an integrated and cost-effective manner and that they link to other 
monitoring studies being undertaken at Knapdale as part of the beaver project. An 
initial baseline survey for aquatic macrophytes will be undertaken in summer 2008. 
 
Physical ‘in-river’ and loch habitat parameters will also be measured.  Primarily these 
will address: 
 
•  levels of sediment transport along the water course; 
21 
 
 
 
 

•  the source of sediment stored/accumulated within beaver ponds; 
•  any changes in water level locally; 
•  the stability of banks occupied by beavers; 
•  alterations to the watercourse network attributable to the creation of beaver 
canals or re-routing existing watercourses; 
 
7.7.6  Features of conservation interest 
 
Baseline monitoring of the resident otter population will begin prior to the release of 
beaver. Otters are valued by the local community and the effect of beavers on the 
otter population was raised as a concern during the local consultation.  
 
The Beaver Steering Group is aware of the current presence of American mink 
within the Knapdale area and will be investigating  ways in which  additional  mink 
control can be facilitated through delivery and management of the beaver trial.  
The proposed trial area contains part of the Taynish and Knapdale SAC and entire 
the Knapdale Woods SSSI.  All features of the SAC and SSSI are subject to Site 
Condition Monitoring by SNH and the continuation of this process during and after 
the trial period will be vital in order to evaluate the impact of the beavers upon these 
important habitats and species.  RZSS and SWT will work closely with SNH and FCS 
to ensure that such monitoring is delivered during the trial period. 
 
Otter, Lutra lutra are an Annex II species identified within the Taynish and Knapdale 
Woods SAC.  They are also highly valued by the local community and the effect of 
beavers on the otter population was raised as a concern during the local 
consultation.  As part of SNH’s Site Condition Monitoring process, a baseline survey 
of the resident otter population was last undertaken in 2005, when the population 
(which is mostly associated with the coast around Loch Sween, rather than within the 
freshwater bodies of the proposed trial area) was found to be in favourable condition.  
It will be necessary to ensure that the otter population is monitored during and after 
the trial period.  The non-native mink is also a species present in the area and its 
detrimental impact upon native species is of great local concern.  It is advisable to 
ensure that mink are monitored at the same time as the local otter population. 
 
Marsh fritillary butterfly, Euphydryas aurinia is another Annex II species identified 
within the Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC.  The species was last surveyed in 
2006 under Site Condition Monitoring requirements, when it was found to be in 
favourable condition.  The majority of the local population is found outwith the trial 
area, in the Taynish NNR, but a small population is found in the heart of the trial area 
around Barnluasgan.  It will be necessary to monitor this species during and after the 
trial. 
 
The site is notified as an SSSI for its dragonfly interest, particularly for Hairy 
Dragonfly,  Brachytron pratense  and  Beautiful Demoiselle,  Calopteryx virgo. It is 
predicted that both species  may benefit from the activities of beavers, such as the 
opening up of riparian areas and the increase in availability of dead vegetation for 
egg laying. Site Condition Monitoring of the dragonfly assemblage was last carried 
out in 2003, when the feature was recorded in favourable status. The monitoring of 
dragonfly species will also be undertaken within the trial period, again in co-
ordination with Site Condition Monitoring requirements. 
 
 
22 
 
 
 
 

7.7.7  – Archaeological features 
The Scheduled Ancient Monuments within the trial area already have an inspection 
regime in place as agreed in the relevant SAM Management Plans, and FCS and 
Historic Scotland staff will continue with this monitored programme with any 
additional impacts related to beaver activity recorded and if necessary acted upon. 
 
7.7.8  Land uses  
 
One of the key aims of the trial is to investigate the potential effect of beaver 
occupation on the landscape and current land uses.  Knapdale will provide an 
excellent opportunity to examine beavers alongside ongoing forest management. It 
will include effects on infrastructure such as culverts, roads and ditches. Knapdale 
also has some small areas of rough grazing land within private land  holding which 
could perhaps allow some examination of how they utilise this land use type. Land 
use information will be mapped prior to the release of beavers.  
 
Biotic factors which influence freshwater loch fisheries will be monitored at Knapdale. 
Consequently, research on these topics will  provide a basis for developing an 
understanding of the impact of beavers on water bodies, for example the change in 
water conditions around a beaver dam.  It could be argued, however, that this 
research will be conducted largely on static water systems and, as such, will have 
limited applicability to flowing systems, such as salmonid rivers.   
 
7.8 
Risk Assessment 
 
The detailed risk assessment document is provided in Annex 6 
 
7.8.1  Potential damage to agriculture 
Given the limited number of burns within and adjacent  to the trial area, it is 
anticipated that flooding would be unlikely to present a major problem.  However, 
monitoring of vulnerable sites should allow the early detection of dam building 
behaviour and/or the identification of offending animals.  Flooding effects can be 
tempered by the use of pipes although experience from the Continent suggests that 
this only delays the problem as beavers may construct another dam adjacent to this. 
 
Feeding on crops is only likely to occur when they are within close vicinity of 
freshwater (20-60 metres).  .  Feeding on agricultural crops is unlikely to be a 
problem given that within Knapdale, there is a very low level of agricultural crop 
occurrence compared with a wide range of wild food plants in or adjacent to water. 
 
7.8.2  Potential damage to forestry and woodland  
 
The flooding of forestry land is not anticipated to present a significant problem given 
the hilly terrain of the trial site and the limited number of burns within and adjacent to 
the trial area.  Also, the same principles of early detection apply as above.  FCS staff 
will also be present within the trial site to assist project staff in the early detection of 
potential problems. 
 
It is not anticipated from experience elsewhere that there will be much, if any, direct 
damage to the commercial conifers of Knapdale Forest. 
 
Monitoring of riparian and other broadleaves will be carried out in the trial area as 
23 
 
 
 
 

part of the project and if unacceptable damage occurs remedial action will be taken 
which could include removal of offending beavers and/or fencing of vulnerable areas.  
A recent study of the impact of reintroduced beavers in Croatia suggested that 75% 
of young pedunculate oaks(Quercus robur) were undamaged (Margaletic 2006) 
Liaison will be maintained with neighbouring  land managers to detect flooding and 
tree damage at an early stage. 
 
 
7.8.3  Fishing interests 
 
Liaison with the local angling club which has a lease on most of the trial lochs will be 
an ongoing part of the project and should help to identify any problems at an  early 
stage.  To date some fishing licences have not been reissued by FCS and therefore 
impact on fishing interests has already been reduced.  In addition the anglers have 
other sites in the local area, outwith the trial site, and will be able to report any signs 
of straying beavers.  Due to the local habitat characteristics the trial release in 
Knapdale will not provide sufficient data on the impact of beavers and their activities 
on salmon fisheries.  This investigation will need to be considered when selecting a 
second release site in phase II of the project. However, as part of stakeholder liaison 
organisations responsible for local fisheries interests will be invited to take part in the 
Knapdale Beaver Forum.   
 
 
7.8.4  Water supplies 
 
Private water supplies that might be at risk from dams, e.g. burn supplies, will be 
regularly checked by project staff and dams and offending beavers which may set up 
residence in these burns will be removed.  Any problems in water quality or 
pathogens will be detected via the monitoring carried out for RZSS  by Argyll and 
Bute Council, and necessary remedial action taken on their advice. 
 
7.8.5  Health and Safety of project personnel  
Project partners have a responsibility to secure the health and safety of all staff and 
others who may be affected by its operations.  This includes project staff and 
volunteers working on the project.   
FC as the landlord will place certain responsibilities upon the Project Partnership as 
tenant. Equally FE will have responsibilities as landlord to the Project Partnership 
and other tenants, contractors and the public. These arrangements will be vested in 
the lease to be drawn up between the partnership organisations. 
All field staff and volunteers will  be provided with full training  on  specific  methods 
which should be adhered to, to ensure safe working conditions for all staff.  This will 
include methods of handling animals  safe access in riparian environments, dealing 
with conflict.  Protective equipment, including radio equipment, will be provided to 
those working in the field. 
 
7.9 
Criteria for success/failure 
 
During the trial, information will be collated, both on the scientific and socio-economic 
implications of the trial, and presented for consideration by the Beaver Steering 
24 
 
 
 
 

Group at the end of the trial period.   This information, and the views of the Groups, 
will subsequently be presented to Scottish Government for consideration on whether 
the trial has been successful or demonstrated limitations.  Then SNH will make a 
recommendation over future action and consult external parties and the Scottish 
Government to agree the way forward. 
 
Criteria for success: 
 
•  Survival of introduced animals is similar to successful re-introduction 
programmes elsewhere in Europe at similar period of population establishment. 
•  A stable or increasing core population is achieved within the limits of the study 
site. 
•  The beaver population demonstrates a positive contribution to ecosystem 
function 
•  Beaver re-introduction is integrated with habitat management/restoration. 
•  The impact on the economy of the area as a result of the presence of beavers is 
positive 
 
 
Criteria for failure: 
 
•  Mortality levels preclude establishment of a population. 
•  Significant and unsustainable damage is incurred by the ecosystem within the 
study site. 
•  The area suffers significant economic loss as a result of beaver activities 
•  Costs of project/damage/management significantly exceed expectations 
 
 
7.10  Project management structure 
 
Principle Applicants  
RZSS, SWT 
 
The Beaver Steering Group: 
Members include RZSS, SWT, SNH, FCS and independent experts 
Purpose: To advise the project team, to provide direction and support, and to co-
ordinate all activities concerned with the success of the enterprise. To report 
every six months to Scottish Government on project progress. 
 
The Beaver Project Team 
Purpose:  To implement the project on the ground including import and 
quarantine, release and monitoring of beavers, production of newsletter and to 
lead on local environmental education.  To report each month to the Beaver 
Steering Group on project implementation progress. 
 
 
7.11  Staffing 
Project staff will be provided by both SWT and RZSS with recruitment of additional 
personnel as required. 
 

TIMESCALE 
 
•  Autumn 2008 – beavers captured and brought to UK for quarantine 
25 
 
 
 
 

•  Spring 2009 – beavers released at Knapdale. 
•  2009 - 2013 – continuous monitoring and evaluation of trial by RZSS an SWT, in 
consultation with other appropriate parties and production of report for 
consideration by Scottish Government 
•  Spring 2010 - feasibility study begins on possible second release site for phase II 
of beaver reintroduction 
•  2012 -  if granted second release of beaver at new location   
•  2014 - decision on beavers in trial area  
 
 

COSTS 
Because the project is a trial release, it will necessarily have a higher than normal 
cost because of the intensive monitoring and management intervention requirement.  
The project budget takes into account the following cost centres: 
Site preparation 
Beaver capture, transport and quarantine 
Project management  
Education/Interpretation 
Monitoring  
A full project budget is provided in Annex 2  
 
10  CONCLUSION 
 
RZSS and SWT consider that a scientific trial at Knapdale is the appropriate way to 
proceed to help determine the suitability of the re-introduction of beavers to Scotland.  
The proposed trial incorporates adequate safeguards for the natural and cultural 
heritage and land and water interests and its scientific approach will provide sound 
information to help guide future decisions.  RZSS and SWT  requests that 
Government grants a licence for the trial release of European beaver into the wild in 
Scotland at Knapdale, Argyll, under Section 16(4) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 
1981 as amended. 
 
 
REFERENCES 
Argyll and Bute Council (2007) The Argyll and Bute Council Corporate Plan 2007-
2011 and beyond 
Campbell R, Dutton A & Hughes J (2007) Economic Impacts of the beaver, Report 
for Wild Britain Initiative 
Campbell RD, Rosell F, Nolet BA, Dijkstra VAA (2005) Territory and group sizes in 
Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber): echos of settlement and reproduction. Behavioural 
Ecology and Sociobiology 58 (6) 
Collen P. (1997). Review of the potential impacts of re-introducing Eurasian beaver 
Castor fiber L. on the ecology and movement of native fishes, and the likely 
implications for current angling practices in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage 
26 
 
 
 
 

Review 86. 
Conroy J. and Kitchener A. (1996). The Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) in Scotland: a 
review of the literature and historical evidence. Scottish Natural Heritage Review 49. 
Daniels, MJ, Rao, SJ, Balharry D and Ratcliffe PR (2000) The suitability of Knapdale 
and Polloch for a trial re-introduction of beavers. Report to SNH by Bidwells Property 
Managers 
 
Elmeros M, Madsen A, Berthelsen J (2003) Monitoring of reintroduced beavers 
(Castor fiber)  in Denmark, Lutra 46 (2) 
Gurnell A. (1997). Analysis of the effects of beaver dam-building acivities on local 
hydrology. Scottish Natural Heritage Review 85. 
 
Haarberg O, Rosell F, (2006) Selective foraging on woody plant species by the 
Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) in Telemark, Norway. Journal of Zoology 270 (2) 
Herr J,  Rosell F (2004) Use of space and movement patterns in monogamous adult 
Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber). Journal of Zoology 262: 257-264 (3)  
Kaltenegger D, (2003) Underwater beaver (Castor fiber L) signs, Denisia (9) 
Kitchener A. and Lynch J.M. (2000). A morphometric comparison of the skulls of 
fossil British and extant European beavers, Castor fiber. Scottish Natural Heritage 
Review 127. 
Macdonald D., Maitland P., Rao S., Rushton S., Strachan R.  and Tattersall, F. 
(1997). Development of a protocol for identifying beaver release sites. Scottish 
Natural Heritage Research, Survey and Monitoring Report 93. 
Margaletic J, Grubesic M, Dusak V, Konjevic D (2006) Activity of European beavers 
(Castor fiber L.) in young peduncuate oak (Quercus robur L.) forests 
Maringer A, Slotta Bachmyer L (2006) A GIS-based habitat suitability model as a tool 
for the management of beavers Castor fiber. Acta Theriologica 
Parker  H, Ronning OC, (2007) Low potential for restraint of anadromous salmonid 
reproduction by beaver (Castor fiber) in the Numedalslagen River catchment, 
Norway, River Research and Applications, 23 (7) 752 -762 
Reynolds P. (2000). European beaver and woodland habitats: a review. Scottish 
Natural Heritage Review 126. 
Rosell  F,  Sanda J  (2006) Potential risks of olfactory signalling: the side effect of 
presdators on scent marking by beavers, Behavioural Ecology 17 (6) 
Rosell F, Thomsen LR (2006) Sexual dimorphism in territorial scent marking by adult 
Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) Journal of Chemical Ecology 32 (6) 1301 – 1315 
Scott Porter Research & Marketing Ltd. (1998). Re-introduction of European Beaver 
to Scotland: results of a public consultation. Scottish Natural Heritage Research, 
Survey and Monitoring Report 121. 
Scottish Forestry Strategy (2006)…………………. 
27 
 
 
 
 

Webb A., French D.D. and Flitsch, A.C.C.  (1997). Identification and assessment of 
possible beaver sites in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage Research, Survey and 
Monitoring Report  94. 
 
Scottish Executive (2006) Scottish Tourism - The Next Decade 
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/03/03145848/0 
ANNEXES 
 
Annex 1 
Map of Knapdale Trial Area 
 
Annex 2  
Business Case and Finance Spreadsheet 
 
Annex 3 
SNH Response to the Minister’s letter of 20 December 2002 
 
Annex 4 
SWT report on the local consultation Oct/Nov 2007  
 
Annex 5 
Economic Impacts of the beaver, Report for Wild Britain Initiative 
(2007) 
Annex 6 
Risk assessment 
 
 
28 
 
 
 
 

Minist er  f or  Env ir onment  
Mich a e l Ru s s e ll MSP  
 
 
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David Windmill 
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland 
Edinburgh 
EH12 6TS 
 
 May 2008 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BEAVER REINTRODUCTION PROJECT 
 
I refer to your application submitted to the Scottish Government on 21 December 2007 for a 
licence under section 16(4) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to release European 
beaver for a trial reintroduction in Knapdale, Argyll.  
 
I am pleased to be able to tell you that we have decided to grant a licence for the project as 
set out in your application.  
 
The licence allows the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Royal Zoological Society of Scotland to 
release up to four families of beavers (each family to comprise not more than two adults and 
their kits) within the Knapdale release site as defined in the application.  The release of the 
beavers will not take place until 2009.  There will then a period of five years to assess the 
viability of the reintroduction. Any further releases of beavers at the end of the trial or in 
relation to any other trial will require a further licence from the Scottish Government.  The 
decision on whether to grant any further licence is a matter for the Scottish Government. 
 
The licence is subject to a number of conditions set out in the attached annex.  These relate 
to the management of the project, the potential impact on the protected areas and species 
within the release site and the arrangements for post release monitoring.   
 
We have received a number of letters from individuals and national organisations expressing 
serious concern about the potential impacts on their properties and businesses.  I recognise 
that many of their concerns may only be assessed in the context of an actual trial taking 
place.  However I attach great importance to the project maintaining a channel of 
communication by which the concerns of local businesses and property-owners are taken 
into account, and, where possible, conflicts are averted before they occur.   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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I wish the beaver reintroduction project every success, and I look forward to the opportunity 
to see these charismatic animals at home in the Scottish countryside 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
MICHAEL RUSSELL MSP 
Minister for Environment 
 
 
 
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ANNEX 
 
 
BEAVER REINTRODUCTION PROJECT 
 
 
Licence Conditions 
 
 

1) The licence allows the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Royal Zoological Society of 
Scotland to release up to four families of beavers (each family to comprise not more 
than two adults and their kits) into the wild at the Knapdale release site as defined in 
the application.   
 
2) The release of the beavers will not take place until 2009.   
 
SNH Role 
 
3) SNH to coordinate a monitoring programme in collaboration with the project partners 
through an appropriate group, and involving SNH’s Scientific Advisory Committee. 
The group, chaired by SNH, will maintain a suitable level of scientific independence 
from the other project groups.  
 
SNH, in collaboration with the group, will: 
• 
Collate information on behalf of the Scottish Government (SG). 
• 
Assess and approve all research, survey and monitoring projects associated 
with the project (including those projects which SNH will not necessarily lead 
on, e.g. public health), thereby ensuring limited resources are directed at 
addressing the core objectives of the trial. 
• 
Coordinate research, survey and monitoring projects to ensure collaborative 
opportunities are identified, data is collated in compatible formats, disturbance 
to beavers minimised and detrimental effects to nature conservation interests 
avoided (e.g. SAC, SPA, species etc.) . 
• 
Ensure all data and information collated during the trial has joint ownership and 
is made publicly available. 
• 
Produce a pre-release monitoring programme and a post-release monitoring 
programme by the year of the release, both plans to be submitted to the SG 
 
SNH will also lead, in collaboration with other partners where appropriate, on specific 
projects relating to the monitoring and modelling of the beaver population, and the 
monitoring of the effects of beaver.  
 
4) SNH to report to the SG on whether the conditions of any licence are being fully 
addressed on the ground. 
 
Beaver management 
 
5) We would recommend the collection and quarantine of a fourth family as a useful 
back-up, in case of any mortality during the quarantine period. Beaver mortality 
during quarantine is not uncommon.  
 
 
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6) We would strongly recommend that all animals are ‘soft released’, with all precautions 
taken to limit the risk of individuals dispersing away from the trial area, and details to 
be agreed with SNH.  
 
7) We would strongly recommend one simultaneous release of all the animals at the 
start of the trial, rather than a series of phased releases. This will help to ensure that 
the animals have the opportunity to establish territories at the same time, and it 
reduces the risk of animals dispersing away from the trial area.  
 
8) Consideration should be given as to whether all animals which move outwith the 
proposed trial area should be removed, or just those where the land owners request 
it.  
 
9) Localised mink control should be considered during the initial establishment of the 
population to protect beaver kits.  The details of any mink trapping must be agreed 
with SNH to take account of SAC qualifying interests and  European Protected 
Species 
 
Project management 
 

10) The European beaver is included within the Species Action Framework (SAF). All 
species identified on the SAF have an implementation plan which sets out objectives, 
actions and tasks which need to be undertaken. It identifies also lead partners for 
each task and sets out resourcing issues. The European beaver is the only one of the 
32 SAF species for which a plan has not yet been drafted because a project has not 
yet been approved. SWT/RZSS to draw up an implementation plan with its partners 
and SNH, and the plan must be made publicly available (e.g. on the SAF web 
pages). 
 
11) SNH should be represented on the “Beaver Steering Group” and a “Beaver Project 
Team” as observers.  
 
12) The licence applicants should ensure they have in place a forum to allow the views of 
lthe local community, including local businesses and property-owners, to be fed into 
the decision-making processes for the project.   
 
13) The length of the collection and quarantine element of the project is one year, and 
the fieldwork element of the project is five years.  The applicants need to plan for 
work extending into year seven to allow time for all monitoring work to be completed, 
and analysed.   
 
14) Once the beavers are released, the licence applicants must be able to ensure that 
they can implement the key elements of the trial, as set out in their application, and 
address any conditions set by the SG. If resourcing is insufficient to continue the trial 
as agreed, then the exit strategy will need to be implemented. 
 
15) The role of the Field Officer should include regular monitoring of ‘sensitive’ areas to 
ensure potential problems are avoided. This to be discussed and agreed with 
relevant adjacent land owners and relevant public bodies (including British 
Waterways, Historic Scotland, FCS, and SNH). 
 
16) A training event should be held in the Knapdale area immediately prior to the release 
of animals. This will ensure relevant project staff and local people are fully aware of, 
 
Vict o r ia  Qu a y , Ed in b u r gh   EH6  6 QQ 
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and prepared for, practical beaver management issues which may arise during the 
project.  
 
17) Discussions, involving the project group members and SNH, to be held with the local 
FES District to ensure future management of woodland takes into account beaver 
issues. 
 
18) Arrangements must be put in place by the licence applicants to ensure that local 
businesses and properties have a clear route to pursue compensation claims for 
damage caused by the beavers during the period of the trial. 
 
19) The exit strategy must be implemented at any time if this is considered necessary by 
the SG.  The SG will consult with the licence applicants and with the monitoring team 
led by SNH before deciding that the exit strategy should be implemented.  
 
Research, Survey and Monitoring 
 
20) A suite of tracking methodologies should be employed, rather than relying too heavily 
on  radio-tracking techniques, which may have a number of practical and animal 
welfare limitations. This will be addressed through the monitoring programme to be 
led by SNH.  
 
21) Argyll and Bute Council to lead on public health monitoring (in discussion with 
Scottish Water), with relevant veterinary advice from RZSS.  SNH’s role would be to 
ensure that any monitoring is effectively and efficiently coordinated with other 
elements of the overall monitoring programme. 
 
22) SNH to discuss with the licence applicants the potential role of the full-time Field 
Officer in collating data for some aspects of the scientific monitoring work.  
 
Mitigation of impact on protected sites and species 
 
23) Beaver dam construction on burns to be carefully monitored and SNH to be informed 
immediately once new dams are created. An assessment will then be made by SNH 
on a case by case basis and, if judged necessary, management of the dam will be 
required. 
 
24) Beaver dam construction on loch outflows to be carefully monitored and SNH to be 
informed  immediately once new dams are created. If beaver dams are constructed 
on the outflows of oligo-mesotrophic lochs within the SAC, then the natural water 
levels of the lochs must be maintained, either through the use of beaver-specific 
devices which can be incorporated to manage water flow, or through removing the 
dam. The details to be discussed and agreed with SNH. 
 
25) No dam building by beavers in outflow burns of Loch Clachaig to be permitted during 
the period April to July inclusive.  Any dams being built during that period should be 
removed without disturbance to the divers.   
 
26) Outflow burns of Loch Clachaig to be checked for beaver activity annually in March 
before the return of divers; if a dam is present consult SNH to determine whether it 
needs to be removed 
 
 
Vict o r ia  Qu a y , Ed in b u r gh   EH6  6 QQ 
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27) Stands of hazel, which hold significant communities of ‘typical species’ of lichens, 
should be protected where necessary using appropriate methods and following 
discussion and agreement with SNH. 
 
28) The methods, and the location, design and construction of structures, required for the 
‘soft release’ of beavers (e.g. artificial lodges and fencing) must take into account 
local otter activity. The same applies to the erection of fencing for any other purpose 
during the trial (e.g. the exclusion of beavers  from sensitive areas). This must be 
discussed and agreed with SNH. 
 
29) If divers are breeding on Loch Clachaig in any year then checking for beavers must 
be carried out without any disturbance to the breeding birds. Black-throated diver is 
listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, as amended, therefore, 
prior to any survey work, relevant project staff must apply for a licence from SNH.  
 
30) A visitor management plan must be agreed and implemented prior to the release of 
beaver and during the lifetime of the project (addressing issues such as signage, 
interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for self-guided and guided 
walks etc.). This plan and the design of associated facilities must be discussed with 
and agreed with SNH. 
 
31) Brachytron pratense to be monitored within the SSSI  and the trial site as a whole. 
Calopteryx virgo should be monitored along specific sections of enclosed and open 
burns. This can be done through the monitoring programme for the project. 
 
 
Landscape and Habitats Division 
Scottish Government 
May 2008 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vict o r ia  Qu a y , Ed in b u r gh   EH6  6 QQ 
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Minist er  f or  Env ir onment  
Mich a e l Ru s s e ll MSP  
 
 
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E: s co t t is h m in is t e r s @s co t la n d .gs i.go v .u k  
 
 
 
Simon Milne 
Scottish Wildlife Trust 
Cramond House 
Kirk Cramond 
Cramond Glebe Road 
Edinburgh 
EH4 6NS 
 
 May 2008 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BEAVER REINTRODUCTION PROJECT 
 
I refer to your application submitted to the Scottish Government on 21 December 2007 for a 
licence under section 16(4) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to release European 
beaver for a trial reintroduction in Knapdale, Argyll.  
 
I am pleased to be able to tell you that we have decided to grant a licence for the project as 
set out in your application.  
 
The licence allows the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Royal Zoological Society of Scotland to 
release up to four families of beavers (each family to comprise not more than two adults and 
their kits) within the Knapdale release site as defined in the application.  The release of the 
beavers will not take place until 2009.  There will then a period of five years to assess the 
viability of the reintroduction. Any further releases of beavers at the end of the trial or in 
relation to any other trial will require a further licence from the Scottish Government.  The 
decision on whether to grant any further licence is a matter for the Scottish Government. 
 
The licence is subject to a number of conditions set out in the attached annex.  These relate 
to the management of the project, the potential impact on the protected areas and species 
within the release site and the arrangements for post release monitoring.   
 
We have received a number of letters from individuals and national organisations expressing 
serious concern about the potential impacts on their properties and businesses.  I recognise 
that many of their concerns may only be assessed in the context of an actual trial taking 
place.  However I attach great importance to the project maintaining a channel of 
communication by which the concerns of local businesses and property-owners are taken 
into account, and, where possible, conflicts are averted before they occur.   
 
 
 
 
 
Vict o r ia  Qu a y , Ed in b u r gh   EH6  6 QQ 
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I wish the beaver reintroduction project every success, and I look forward to the opportunity 
to see these charismatic animals at home in the Scottish countryside 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
MICHAEL RUSSELL MSP 
Minister for Environment 
 
 
 
Vict o r ia  Qu a y , Ed in b u r gh   EH6  6 QQ 
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ANNEX 
 
 
BEAVER REINTRODUCTION PROJECT 
 
 
Licence Conditions 
 
 

1) The licence allows the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Royal Zoological Society of 
Scotland to release up to four families of beavers (each family to comprise not more 
than two adults and their kits) into the wild at the Knapdale release site as defined in 
the application.   
 
2) The release of the beavers will not take place until 2009.   
 
SNH Role 
 
3) SNH to coordinate a monitoring programme in collaboration with the project partners 
through an appropriate group, and involving SNH’s Scientific Advisory Committee. 
The group, chaired by SNH, will maintain a suitable level of scientific independence 
from the other project groups.  
 
SNH, in collaboration with the group, will: 
• 
Collate information on behalf of the Scottish Government (SG). 
• 
Assess and approve all research, survey and monitoring projects associated 
with the project (including those projects which SNH will not necessarily lead 
on, e.g. public health), thereby ensuring limited resources are directed at 
addressing the core objectives of the trial. 
• 
Coordinate research, survey and monitoring projects to ensure collaborative 
opportunities are identified, data is collated in compatible formats, disturbance 
to beavers minimised and detrimental effects to nature conservation interests 
avoided (e.g. SAC, SPA, species etc.) . 
• 
Ensure all data and information collated during the trial has joint ownership and 
is made publicly available. 
• 
Produce a pre-release monitoring programme and a post-release monitoring 
programme by the year of the release, both plans to be submitted to the SG 
 
SNH will also lead, in collaboration with other partners where appropriate, on specific 
projects relating to the monitoring and modelling of the beaver population, and the 
monitoring of the effects of beaver.  
 
4) SNH to report to the SG on whether the conditions of any licence are being fully 
addressed on the ground. 
 
Beaver management 
 
5) We would recommend the collection and quarantine of a fourth family as a useful 
back-up, in case of any mortality during the quarantine period. Beaver mortality 
during quarantine is not uncommon.  
 
 
Vict o r ia  Qu a y , Ed in b u r gh   EH6  6 QQ 
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6) We would strongly recommend that all animals are ‘soft released’, with all precautions 
taken to limit the risk of individuals dispersing away from the trial area, and details to 
be agreed with SNH.  
 
7) We would strongly recommend one simultaneous release of all the animals at the 
start of the trial, rather than a series of phased releases. This will help to ensure that 
the animals have the opportunity to establish territories at the same time, and it 
reduces the risk of animals dispersing away from the trial area.  
 
8) Consideration should be given as to whether all animals which move outwith the 
proposed trial area should be removed, or just those where the land owners request 
it.  
 
9) Localised mink control should be considered during the initial establishment of the 
population to protect beaver kits.  The details of any mink trapping must be agreed 
with SNH to take account of SAC qualifying interests and  European Protected 
Species 
 
Project management 
 

10) The European beaver is included within the Species Action Framework (SAF). All 
species identified on the SAF have an implementation plan which sets out objectives, 
actions and tasks which need to be undertaken. It identifies also lead partners for 
each task and sets out resourcing issues. The European beaver is the only one of the 
32 SAF species for which a plan has not yet been drafted because a project has not 
yet been approved. SWT/RZSS to draw up an implementation plan with its partners 
and SNH, and the plan must be made publicly available (e.g. on the SAF web 
pages). 
 
11) SNH should be represented on the “Beaver Steering Group” and a “Beaver Project 
Team” as observers.  
 
12) The licence applicants should ensure they have in place a forum to allow the views of 
lthe local community, including local businesses and property-owners, to be fed into 
the decision-making processes for the project.   
 
13) The length of the collection and quarantine element of the project is one year, and 
the fieldwork element of the project is five years.  The applicants need to plan for 
work extending into year seven to allow time for all monitoring work to be completed, 
and analysed.   
 
14) Once the beavers are released, the licence applicants must be able to ensure  that 
they can implement the key elements of the trial, as set out in their application, and 
address any conditions set by the SG. If resourcing is insufficient to continue the trial 
as agreed, then the exit strategy will need to be implemented. 
 
15) The role of the Field Officer should include regular monitoring of ‘sensitive’ areas to 
ensure potential problems are avoided. This to be discussed and agreed with 
relevant adjacent land owners and relevant public bodies (including British 
Waterways, Historic Scotland, FCS, and SNH). 
 
16) A training event should be held in the Knapdale area immediately prior to the release 
of animals. This will ensure relevant project staff and local people are fully aware of, 
 
Vict o r ia  Qu a y , Ed in b u r gh   EH6  6 QQ 
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and prepared for, practical beaver management issues which may arise during the 
project.  
 
17) Discussions, involving the project group members and SNH, to be held with the local 
FES District to ensure future management of woodland takes into account beaver 
issues. 
 
18) Arrangements must be put in place by the licence applicants to ensure that local 
businesses and properties have a clear route to pursue compensation claims for 
damage caused by the beavers during the period of the trial. 
 
19) The exit strategy must be implemented at any time if this is considered necessary by 
the SG.  The SG will consult with the licence applicants and with the monitoring team 
led by SNH before deciding that the exit strategy should be implemented.  
 
Research, Survey and Monitoring 
 
20) A suite of tracking methodologies should be employed, rather than relying too heavily 
on radio-tracking techniques, which may have a number of practical and animal 
welfare limitations. This will be addressed through the monitoring programme to be 
led by SNH.  
 
21) Argyll and Bute Council to lead on public health monitoring  (in discussion with 
Scottish Water), with relevant veterinary advice from RZSS.  SNH’s role would be to 
ensure that any monitoring is effectively and efficiently coordinated with other 
elements of the overall monitoring programme. 
 
22) SNH to discuss with the  licence applicants the potential role of the full-time Field 
Officer in collating data for some aspects of the scientific monitoring work.  
 
Mitigation of impact on protected sites and species 
 
23) Beaver dam construction on burns to be carefully monitored and SNH to be informed 
immediately once new dams are created. An assessment will then be made by SNH 
on a case by case basis and, if judged necessary, management of the dam will be 
required. 
 
24) Beaver dam construction on loch outflows to be carefully monitored and SNH to be 
informed immediately once new dams are created. If beaver dams are constructed 
on the outflows of oligo-mesotrophic lochs within the SAC, then the natural water 
levels of the lochs must be maintained, either through the use of beaver-specific 
devices which can be incorporated to manage water flow, or through removing the 
dam. The details to be discussed and agreed with SNH. 
 
25) No dam building by beavers in outflow burns of Loch Clachaig to be permitted during 
the period April to July inclusive.  Any dams being built during that period should be 
removed without disturbance to the divers.   
 
26) Outflow burns of Loch Clachaig to be checked for beaver activity annually in March 
before the return of divers; if a dam is present consult SNH to determine whether it 
needs to be removed 
 
 
Vict o r ia  Qu a y , Ed in b u r gh   EH6  6 QQ 
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27) Stands of hazel, which hold significant communities of ‘typical species’ of lichens, 
should be protected where necessary using appropriate methods and following 
discussion and agreement with SNH. 
 
28) The methods, and the location, design and construction of structures, required for the 
‘soft release’ of beavers (e.g. artificial lodges and fencing) must take into account 
local otter activity. The same applies to the erection of fencing for any other purpose 
during the trial (e.g. the exclusion of beavers from sensitive areas). This must be 
discussed and agreed with SNH. 
 
29) If divers are breeding on Loch Clachaig in any year then checking for beavers must 
be carried out without any disturbance to the breeding birds. Black-throated diver is 
listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, as amended, therefore, 
prior to any survey work, relevant project staff must apply for a licence from SNH.  
 
30) A visitor management plan must be agreed and implemented prior to the release of 
beaver and during the lifetime of the project (addressing issues such as signage, 
interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for self-guided and guided 
walks etc.). This plan and the design of associated facilities must be discussed with 
and agreed with SNH. 
 
31) Brachytron pratense to be monitored within the SSSI  and the trial site as a whole. 
Calopteryx virgo should be monitored along specific sections of enclosed and open 
burns. This can be done through the monitoring programme for the project. 
 
 
Landscape and Habitats Division 
Scottish Government 
May 2008 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vict o r ia  Qu a y , Ed in b u r gh   EH6  6 QQ 
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Trial reintroduction of European beaver to Knapdale Forest – Advice and 
Recommendations to the Scottish Government by Scottish Natural 
Heritage. 
8 May 2008. 
 
DOCUMENT 1 
 
LICENCE APPLICATION TO THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT FROM 
SCOTTISH WILDLIFE TRUST AND ROYAL ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF 
SCOTLAND RELATING TO A PROPOSED TRIAL REINTRODUCTION OF 
EUROPEAN BEAVER TO KNAPDALE FOREST -  SNH COMMENTS AND 
RECOMMENDATIONS. 
 
 
 
CONTENTS: 
 
a)  INTRODUCTION 
 
b)  GENERAL COMMENTS 
 
c)  SPECIFIC COMMENTS   
 
d)  SNH RECOMMENDATIONS 
 
 
1. INTRODUCTION 
 
The following document sets out general comments, specific comments and 
recommendations relating to the licence application package submitted by 
RZSS and SWT.  
 
The Scottish Government  may wish to use the SNH recommendations set 
out at the end of this document, if judged appropriate, as conditions in any 
licence provided to RZSS/SWT. Note there are also recommended conditions 
listed in Document 2 (SNH’s appraisal of the proposal in relation to possible 
effects on Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC and Knapdale Lochs SPA) and 
Document 3 (SNH’s appraisal of the proposal in relation to possible effects on 
Knapdale Lochs SSSI, Knapdale Woods SSSI, European Protected Species, 
Schedule 5 species, Badger and Knapdale NSA). 
 
 
2. GENERAL COMMENTS  
 
•  A large proportion of this application appears to be based on the 
previous licence application submitted to Scottish Executive in January 
2002 by SNH. However there are variations.  
 
•  As already discussed with officials of the SG, SNH should coordinate 
the independent monitoring  element of the trial (the monitoring and 

modelling of the beaver population, and the monitoring of the effects of 
beaver) and possibly have a role to coordinate overall research, survey 
and monitoring. We suggest that this should involve the setting up of 
an appropriate group chaired by SNH which includes representatives of 
relevant project partners. This will ensure that work is prioritised to 
provide answers to the key questions relating to the reintroduction of 
beavers to Scotland.  It will also ensure data ownership belongs to the 
overall project, and can be made publicly available. Details are 
provided in recommendation ‘a’ of the Recommendations section 
below. 
 
•  SNH could then report to the SG on whether the conditions of any 
licence are being fully addressed. 
 
•  SG may also wish to consider setting up and chairing a group which 
could meet occasionally to discuss progress with, and input to, the trial. 
Representation of the group may be drawn from various conservation, 
land use and freshwater sectors. SNH  could provide reports on the 
monitoring of the trial to such a group.  
 
•  We envisage that SNH would be members of both the Beaver Steering 
Group and the Beaver Project Team, as observers. 
 
•  It is important to stress the need for involvement of the local community 
in the project. The discussion on the consultation should recognise the 
concerns of some of the local community and ensure that they are 
involved in the direction of the project in future. The application does 
refer to local involvement, including a Knapdale Beaver Forum, and the 
role of this forum should be stressed as an important part of the 
management of the project  
 
•  The project is for six years, one year preparation and five years of trial 
release.  This seems to assume that all the assessment and monitoring 
work will be finished well before the end of year six to give time for the 
SG to make a decision.  Assuming that five years is the length of the 
fieldwork element of the trial, the project should, in reality extend into 
year seven to allow time for all monitoring work to be completed, 
analysed and made widely available to help inform any decision over 
trial.   
 
 
3. SPECIFIC COMMENTS   
 
The following comments refer to the main document of the licence application 
package submitted by RZSS and SWT.  
 
p.1 – Summary - Reference is made to the collection of three beaver families.  
There may be merit in adding a fourth family as a useful back-up, in case of 
any mortality during the quarantine period. If all four families survive, then the 
fourth family could be released or kept in captivity. 

 
p.3  – Section 2 - Statutory and Strategic Framework - Reference is made 
to the information provided in Annex 3 of the licence application. This is a 
document originally produced by SNH and which is described as still being 
“valid”.  Although this is largely the case, it should be noted that this SNH 
document was produced in early 2005, and some of the information is now 
out of date. We have, however, produced an update on the European 
experience with beaver as part of this package of advice to the SG. 
 
p.4  –  Section 2.1 –  Legal position -  Reference is made to the legal 
protection which may be applicable to beaver during any trial. We understand 
this issue is being clarified by the SG.  
 
p.4  –  Section 2.1 –  Legal position  -  It states that the “Trial animals will 
remain the property of the project partnership”. We assume they will actually 
be the property of the licence applicants, RZSS and SWT. Again, we 
understand this issue is being clarified by the SG. 
 
p.4  –  Section 2.1 –  Legal position -  Reference is made to the issue of 
species protection which may be applied to beaver in the longer term. This 
could include consideration of the addition of beaver as a European Protected 
Species (EPS) on Schedule 2 of The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) 
Regulations 1994, as amended. EPS of animal are derived from Annex IV of 
the Habitats Directive. It is worth noting that European beaver is also listed on 
Annex II of the Habitats Directive. Again we understand that the legal status of 
the animals is being clarified by the SG. 
 
p.6 – Section 2.2 – Public consultation 
p.24 -  Section 7.8.3 – Fishing interests 
p.25 – Section 7.10 – Project Management Structure
 
Sections 2.2 and 7.10 refer to a proposed “Beaver Steering Group” and a 
“Beaver Project Team” (to implement work on the ground).  Section 7.8.3 also 
refers to a “Knapdale Beaver Forum”, and Section 2.2 refers to a “stakeholder 
forum” which we understand are the same  - apparently this has already been 
established “to allow others to feed into the management process”, although 
we are unaware of how this forum has been operating and who is represented 
on it. Finally, Section 2.2 refers to a “beaver supporter’s group” to allow 
people to “contribute practically to the trial”. 
  
SNH agrees the need for the Beaver Steering Group and a Beaver Project 
Team, and we envisage being represented on these groups as observers. 
There is also a need for the involvement of the local community in the project. 
The proposed Knapdale Beaver Forum would therefore play an important part 
of the management of the project, as would any associated, more informal 
beaver supporter’s group which could encourage wider local involvement. 
 
In addition to these groups, we anticipate an independent group chaired by 
SNH to lead on the scientific monitoring. (see General Comments, and 
Recommendations ‘a’ and ‘c’, for more details) 
 

p.6  –  Section 2.2 –  Public consultation -  A proposal is made for wide 
engagement. While this is to be encouraged, it needs to be done in such a 
way that it does not undermine the core purpose  of the trial, and does not 
have a detrimental impact on the SAC and SPA qualifying interests, the 
notified features of the SSSI or any other such features. Therefore the 
proposed involvement of film crews, universities etc.  will need to be carefully 
planned and coordinated (the issue of visitor management is addressed in 
SNH’s appraisal of the proposal in relation to possible effects on Taynish and 
Knapdale Woods SAC and Knapdale Lochs SPA, enclosed with this 
document). In the case of university involvement, there is also a need to 
ensure all data is shared and made publicly available, which can be done via 
the proposed monitoring group to be chaired by SNH.  
 
p.6  –  Section 2.3 -  Local consultation –  It is important, once and if the 
project is approved, to clarify precisely how the project will incorporate 
feedback from the local consultation into the trial design. This issue is referred 
to, in general terms, in the Local Consultation report (Annex 4 of the licence 
application package).  
 
p.7  –  Section 3.2 -  Knapdale  -  
Reference is made to the previous 
appropriate assessment.  Note that the SG is the competent authority for this 
new licence application, with advice from SNH.   
 
p.8 – 1st line – Section 3.2 - Knapdale -  Note that some of the lochs in the 
eastern part of the trial area flow north-east  towards the Crinan Canal (i.e. the 
feeder lochs for the canal), rather than towards the south. 
 
p.9  –  Section 3.3 –  Release points -  The proposal is to release three 
families, which RZSS will review and augment if necessary. Efforts should be 
made to undertake one simultaneous release to ensure that the animals have 
the opportunity to establish territory at the same time. Consideration should 
be given to capturing and quarantining a fourth beaver family from Norway 
(see comments for page 1 above). The first animals released are likely to set 
up larger territories than those coming later, the consequence being that any 
further releases of new animals will result in an increased likelihood of the 
new animals being unable to establish territories, and therefore dispersing 
away from the site (this is unlikely to be such an issue for related juveniles of 
the existing families when they leave their parental groups to set up territories 
in the Knapdale area). 
 
p.10  –  Section 3.3 –  Release points -  Reference is made the extent of 
suitable habitat at Knapdale. Although the licence applicants do not refer to it, 
SNH have already modelled future beaver expansion at Knapdale and 
assessed this issue (Rushton, S, South, A & Lurz, P 2000 Predicting the 
outcome of a proposed re-introduction of the European beaver Castor fiber at 
Knapdale, Argyll. SNH Commissioned Report  F022AC327, Battleby). The 
study concluded that the mean population size after 5 years, starting with 
three families, was between 26-28 animals, as predicted by two types of 
models. The carrying capacity of Knapdale was judged to be around 18 
families (assuming approx. four animals per family). It is recommended that 

SNH maintains an overview of such beaver models in order that this can be 
made into a publicly available tool for Government and others.  
 
p.10  –  Section 3.3 –  Release points -  It is stated that “An agreement on 
behalf of the project partnership of RZSS and SWT has been drawn up with 
Forest Commission Scotland to accommodate the trial release on FCS 
property at Knapdale”, It may be necessary for the SG, and SNH,  to see and 
comment on this in due course, in order to ensure it complies with the 
conditions set out in any licence.  
 
p.10 – Section 4 – Business Case – The monitoring and research element is 
set at £655K and the “…majority of which will be led, carried out and paid for 
by SNH.” It should be emphasised that this figure has not been discussed or 
agreed with SNH. 
 
The interpretation and communication costs are £140K – Although SNH sees 
the need for this element of the project, it needs to be emphasised that the 
project is a trial, with an exit strategy built in if required. Consequently this 
needs to be considered when planning the lifespan of any interpretation and 
communication infrastructure.  
 
The overall project will be expensive, with so far no clear indication over how 
it will be funded. It is reasonable, however for the RZSS and SWT to argue 
that they need the certainty of a licence before they can fully engage in 
detailed fundraising. This can of course continue over the lifetime of the 
project. Once the beavers are released, the licence applicants must be able to 
ensure that they can implement the key elements of the trial, as set out in 
their application, and address any conditions set by the SG. If resourcing is 
insufficient to continue the trial as agreed, then the exit strategy will need to 
be implemented.  
 
p.11  –  Section 5.1 –  Disease and water quality -  RZSS/SWT propose to 
work with ABC on public health monitoring, a proposal which SNH supports.  
RZSS veterinary expertise may be of value in this regard. However, the 
independence of the public health monitoring will be important and we agree 
that ABC (in discussion with Scottish Water) should lead on this element, as 
stated. SNH’s role would be limited to ensuring that any monitoring is 
effectively coordinated with other elements of the overall programme. Note 
that baseline public health monitoring has already been undertaken at 
Knapdale, and was published by SNH, (Morrison, A 2004 Trial re-introduction 
of the European beaver to Knapdale: public health monitoring 2001-3.  SNH 
Commissioned Report
 77, Battleby) 
 
p.12  –  Section 6.1 –  Environmental education -  In order for SNH to 
consider the proposal in relation to possible effects on Taynish and Knapdale 
Woods SAC and Knapdale Lochs SPA, further details were required, since 
the building of facilities, and visitor management,  could have a ‘significant 
effect’.  Following confirmation with the SG, SNH therefore approached SWT 
and received further information on this issue. This information has been 
incorporated into “SNH’s appraisal of the proposal in relation to possible 

effects on Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC and Knapdale Lochs SPA” 
which is enclosed with this document.  
 
p.12 – Section 6.2 - Socio-economic -  There are no specific proposals as to 
whether this might be investigated further during the trial. However, SNH has 
recently approved funding for a new SNH PhD based at the Scottish 
Agricultural College/ University of Edinburgh, entitled ‘Evaluating the 
socioeconomic implications of species reintroductions in Scotland’. If the 
beaver trial is approved, the studentship could be directed to give particular 
attention to the project.   
 
p.13 – Section 6.3 – Biodiversity – Reference is made to the “SNH Species 
Action Framework” (SAF - although this is not only an SNH initiative, but one 
which a range of partners can contribute to).  The applicants refer to the first 
aim set out in the SAF implementation plan for beaver, i.e. the reintroduction 
of beaver.  However, they could also have usefully  referred to the second aim 
of establishing associated conservation programmes for habitats and species. 
This omission is perhaps understandable since it is not part of the trial itself.  
It is worth noting, however, that there is the potential for the trial at Knapdale, 
particularly once it is well underway, to be used to stimulate wider thinking in 
relation to riparian woodland and wetland restoration, and to the management 
of species associated with these types of  habitats.   
 
p. 14 –  Section 7.1.1 –  Source population -  Following recent scientific 
research, there has been discussion as to whether Norway necessarily has to 
be the sole source in biological terms. However, we would still support the use 
of Norwegian animals, as it is certainly an appropriate biological source. 
 
p.14 - Section 7.1.3  - Practical issues,  
p.15 - Section 7.4 - Release,  
p.17 - Section 7.5.1 - Containment Options,   
p.17 - Section 7.5.2 - Movement of animals outwith the trial area –
  
Reference is made to implanted tags. Following recent discussions with a 
range of specialists (also see Document 4), we believe a suite of tracking 
methodologies should be employed, rather than relying too heavily on radio-
tracking techniques, which may sometimes have a number of practical and 
animal welfare limitations.  Since the tracking of animals is an important 
element in the scientific monitoring, and practical management, of the 
beavers, it will be necessary to develop a suitable methodology which may 
use a range of techniques (such as various types of electronic transmitters, 
PIT transponders, visible tags, regular surveys, training and use of 
partners/public to report field signs etc.) This should be included as an 
element in the overall monitoring programme to be addressed by the 
proposed group chaired by SNH.  
 
The Field Officer should regularly survey particularly ‘sensitive’ areas as a 
routine part of their job (e.g. Crinan Canal and its feeder lochs etc). 
  
p.15 – Section 7.1.3 - Practical issues – It states  “The opportunity to select 
animals from rivers known to be free of diseases, such as Gyrodactylus salsii 

and Giardia”. It should be noted that this statement may not be strictly correct  
-  although research to date has not detected Giardia  in beavers from the 
proposed donor site, this does not mean to say that the entire river area (or 
some beavers in the catchment) is free of it.  However, the issue of possible 
disease or parasite transmission should be covered in their proposals for 
quarantine after the import of the animals.  
 
p.15  –  Section 7.2 –  Procurement of release animals  -  “A minimum of 
three family groups…” As stated above, we would recommend four family 
groups. 
 
p.15 – Section 7.4 – Release – 
The applicants suggest the use of hard and 
soft release explain methods to allow a comparison (soft release techniques 
involve a period of acclimatisation  to the environment into which the animal 
will eventually be released, whereas in hard release the animals are 
introduced straight into the wild with no transitional phase). However, this is a 
trial reintroduction, with containment of animals a key issue. It does not seem 
appropriate, therefore, to test different release methods in this trial. SNH 
recommend that a soft release should be used as this should decrease the 
likelihood of animals moving away from the trial area. 
 
p.16 -  Section 7.5.1 – Containment options – Reference is made to habitat 
manipulation. In light of the fact that there are still substantial stands of conifer 
plantation (which are unsuitable habitat for beaver) within the central part of 
the trial area, we would recommend that discussions are held with the local 
FES District to ensure future management of woodland takes into account 
beaver issues (i.e. balancing of beaver containment and dispersal within the 
site, with management for designated site interests etc.)  
 
p.17 – Section 7.5.2 -  Movement of animals outwith the trial area – The 
proposal is that animals outwith the trial area will be removed if the landowner 
wants it. Therefore consideration should be given as to whether all animals 
which move outwith the proposed trial area should be removed, or just those 
where the land owners request it. Clearly, this is an issue of practical 
management for the project to resolve in detail, taking the advice of any 
advisory group that may be established.   
 
p.17  –  Section 7.5.2 –  Movement of animals outwith the trial area  –  It 
states “Training in beaver ecology and behaviour will be offered at a local 
level by SWT and RZSS early on within the trial, in order to assist local 
landowners and managers recognise beaver field signs.” SNH supports the 
need to educate, train and support project workers and other local people who 
may need to be aware of, or are interested in, beaver issues. We suggest that 
the project partners hold an organised training event in the Knapdale area 
immediately prior to the release of animals, which could involve  experts from 
Europe who have had practical experience with beaver management issues.  
 
p.18  –  Section 7.6 – Exit strategy –  The legal issues surrounding some of 
the exit strategy options proposed, (e.g. humane destruction), will need to be 

confirmed, as part of the clarification currently being sought from lawyers by 
the SG.  
 
It is highly unlikely that repatriation of animals to their country of origin (part of 
option 1) will be possible. It would be helpful if the project partners could 
confirm what their preferred option is in relation to the exit strategy.  
 
p.19  –  Section 7.7 –  Research & monitoring strategy –  This issue  will 
require careful coordination. Consideration is required as to what is essential 
and what is desirable. Clearly the  aims of the research and monitoring 
programme should be to address the overall objectives of the trial, and it is 
therefore important that all individual projects, of SNH and all project partners, 
are coordinated and contribute towards these aims (see Recommendation 
‘a’).  
 
We consider that the full-time Field Officer post will, in addition to providing on 
the ground management support for the project, be in an ideal situation to 
collate data for some of the monitoring work (e.g. hydrology). If the licence is 
approved, we will discuss this further with the licence applicants. Any 
programme of pre-release monitoring would ideally start during the late 
spring/summer months. 
 
p.20  –  Section 7.7.1 –  Animal health –
  Reference is made to individual 
release animals being recaptured on an annual basis for testing. In fact, as 
stated above, if radio tracking methods are used, then some animals may 
need to be recaptured more frequently to allow the replacement of batteries 
on transmitters. 
 
p.20 – Section 7.7.2 – Beaver ecology 
p.21 – Section 7.7.5  - Terrestrial and aquatic habitats 
p.22 – Section 7.7.6 – Features of conservation interest 
p.23 – Section 7.7.8 – Land uses
 
Details on these aspects can be agreed in due course as part of the overall 
coordination of the monitoring elements of the trial by SNH.  
 
p.20  –  Section 7.7.3 –  British Waterways –  We agree that there is an 
important need for the Field Officer to regularly survey the canal, feeder lochs 
and burns, and indeed to visit any other ‘sensitive’ areas on a regular basis. 
This should be made a condition of any licence.  
 
p.22  –  Section 7.7.6 –  Features of conservation interest -  Reference is 
made to the presence of mink at Knapdale. It should be noted that mink have 
been recorded predating beaver kits, and there is therefore a risk to any kits 
at Knapdale. In light of this, some localised mink control should be considered 
during the initial establishment of the population, although this would need to 
take account of the presence of otter (a European Protected  Species and a 
qualifying feature for Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC).  The details of any 
mink trapping can be discussed with SNH in due course.  
 
 

4. SNH RECOMMENDATIONS 
 
The Scottish Government  may wish to use these recommendations, if judged 
appropriate, as conditions in any licence provided to RZSS/SWT.  
 
SNH Role 
 
a)  SNH to coordinate a monitoring programme in collaboration with the 
project partners through an appropriate group, and involving SNH’s 
Scientific Advisory Committee. The group, chaired by SNH, will 
maintain a suitable level of scientific independence from the other 
project groups.  
 
SNH, in collaboration with the group, will: 
• 
Collate information on behalf of the Scottish Government. 
• 
Assess and approve all research, survey and monitoring 
projects associated with the project (including those projects 
which SNH will not necessarily lead on, e.g. public health), 
thereby ensuring limited resources are directed at addressing 
the core objectives of the trial. 
• 
Coordinate research, survey and monitoring projects to ensure 
collaborative opportunities are identified, data is collated in 
compatible formats, disturbance to beavers minimised and 
detrimental effects to nature conservation interests avoided (e.g. 
SAC, SPA, species etc.) . 
• 
Ensure all data and information collated during the trial has joint 
ownership and is made publicly available. 
• 
Produce a pre-release monitoring programme and a post-
release monitoring programme by the year of the release, both 
plans to be submitted to the SG 
 
SNH will also lead, in collaboration with other partners where 
appropriate, on specific projects relating to the monitoring and 
modelling of the beaver population, and the monitoring of the effects of 
beaver.  
 
b)  SNH to report to the SG on whether the conditions of any licence are 
being fully addressed on the ground. 
 
c)  The SG may wish to consider setting up and chairing a group which 
could meet occasionally to discuss progress with, and input to, the trial. 
Representation of the group may be drawn from various conservation, 
land use and freshwater sectors. SNH could provide reports on the 
monitoring of the trial to such a group. 
 
Beaver management 
 
d)  We would recommend the collection and quarantine of a fourth family 
as a useful back-up, in case of any mortality during the quarantine 
period. Beaver mortality during quarantine is not uncommon. 

Therefore, if a licence is approved, it should permit the release of up to 
four families. 
 
e)  We would strongly recommend that all animals are ‘soft released’, with 
all precautions taken to limit  the risk of individuals dispersing away 
from the trial area, and details to be agreed with SNH. (For  more 
details see SNH’s appraisal of the proposal in relation to possible 
effects on Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC and Knapdale Lochs 
SPA). 
 
f)  We would strongly recommend one simultaneous release of all the 
animals at the start of the trial, rather than a series of phased releases. 
This will help to ensure that the animals have the opportunity to 
establish territories at the same time, and it reduces the risk of animals 
dispersing away from the trial area.  
 
g)  Consideration should be given as to whether all animals which move 
outwith the proposed trial area should be removed, or just those where 
the land owners request it.  
 
h)  Localised mink control should be considered during the initial 
establishment of the population to protect beaver kits.  The details of 
any mink trapping must be agreed with SNH to take account of SAC 
qualifying interests and  European Protected Species 
 
Project management 
 

i)  The European beaver is included within the Species Action Framework 
(SAF). All species identified on the SAF have an implementation plan 
which sets out objectives, actions and tasks which need to be 
undertaken. It identifies also lead partners for each task and sets out 
resourcing issues. The European beaver is the only one of the 32 SAF 
species for which a plan has not yet been drafted because a project 
has not yet been approved. If the licence is given, SWT/RZSS must 
draw up an implementation plan with its partners and SNH,  and the 
plan must be made publicly available (e.g. on the SAF web pages 
www.snh.org.uk/speciesactionframework). 
 
j)  We support the setting up of a “Beaver Steering Group” and a “Beaver 
Project Team” as described. We envisage that SNH would be 
represented on these groups as observers. The local community also 
needs to be involved in the direction of the project, hence we see merit 
in establishing a “Knapdale Beaver Forum”, and an associated “Beaver 
Supporter’s Group”.  
 
k)  If the length of the collection and quarantine element of the project is 
one year, and the fieldwork element of the project is five years, then 
the applicants need to plan for work extending into year seven to allow 
time for all monitoring work to be completed, analysed and consulted 
on and for a decision to be made by the SG on the outcome of the trial. 

 
l)  Once the beavers are released, the licence applicants must be able to 
ensure that they can implement the key elements of the trial, as set out 
in their application, and address any conditions set by the SG. If 
resourcing is insufficient to continue the trial as agreed, then the exit 
strategy will need to be implemented. 
 
m) The role of the Field Officer should include regular monitoring of 
‘sensitive’ areas to ensure potential problems are avoided. This to be 
discussed and agreed with relevant adjacent land owners and relevant 
public bodies (including British Waterways, Historic Scotland, FCS, and 
SNH). 
 
n)  A training event should be held in the Knapdale area immediately prior 
to the release of animals.  This will ensure relevant project staff and 
local people are fully aware of, and prepared for, practical beaver 
management issues which may arise during the project.  
 
o)  The application states that an agreement on behalf of the project 
partnership of RZSS and SWT has been drawn up with FCS to 
accommodate the trial release on FCS property at Knapdale. It is 
therefore recommended that the SG, with advice from SNH, is given 
the opportunity to ensure the agreement addresses any conditions set 
out in a licence. 
 
p)  Discussions, involving the project group members and SNH, to be held 
with the local FES District to ensure future management of woodland 
takes into account beaver issues 
 
Research, Survey and Monitoring 
 
(Also see recommendation ‘a’ above) 
 
q)  A suite of tracking methodologies should be employed, rather than 
relying too heavily on radio-tracking techniques, which may have a 
number of practical and animal welfare limitations. This will be 
addressed through the monitoring programme to be led by SNH.  
 
r)  Argyll and  Bute Council to lead on public health monitoring (in 
discussion with Scottish Water), with relevant veterinary advice from 
RZSS.  SNH’s role would be to ensure that any monitoring is effectively 
and efficiently coordinated with other elements of the overall monitoring 
programme. 
 
s)  SNH to discuss with the licence applicants the potential role of the full-
time Field Officer in collating data for some aspects of the scientific 
monitoring work.  
 




Professor Colin A. Galbraith 
 
Silvan House 
Director of Policy and Advice 
3rd Floor East 
 
231 Corstorphine Road 
 
Edinburgh 
Direct Dial: 0131-316 2601 
EH12 7AT 
E-mail: xxxxx.xxxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx.xx 
Telephone: 0131-316 2600 
 
Website: www.snh.org.uk 
Fax: 0131-316 2690 
 
 
 
 
Hugh Dignon 
Nature Conservation Species Team 
Scottish Government 
Victoria Quay 
EDINBURGH 
EH6 6QQ 
 
 
8 May 2008 
 
 
 
Dear Hugh 
 
PROPOSAL BY THE SCOTTISH WILDLIFE TRUST AND THE ROYAL 
ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND TO UNDERTAKE A TRIAL RE-
INTRODUCTION OF EUROPEAN BEAVER TO KNAPDALE, ARGYLL 
 
We have now reviewed the application and I am pleased to be able to send you our 
comments on the license application, our assessment in relation to the Natura 
interest (SAC and SPA), and in relation to the SSSI interest. I attach also a report 
outlining our understanding of the experience of beaver reintroduction in other parts 
of Europe. 
 
I attach 4 documents: 
 
1  
Comments on the license application. 
 
2  
Comments on the Natura interest.  
 

 Comments on the SSSI interest.  
 
4  
The European experience document.  
 
It is important that I add some covering comments to these documents,  and do so 
specifically in relation to our assessment of the interactions between beavers and the 
Natura and SSSI interest.  
 
Given the nature of the application we have adopted a very precautionary approach 
to our assessment. Where we have judged there to be any possibility of the project 
leading to a change in the existing species assemblage or habitat complex in the trial 
area, then we have undertaken a full assessment. In doing this we have considered 
1m:\beavers 2\snh advice to sg re rzss_swt beaver licence application -  8 may 2008 - cover letter to hugh dignon.doc 



Trial reintroduction of European beaver to Knapdale Forest –  Advice and 
Recommendations to the Scottish Government by Scottish Natural 
Heritage. 
8 May 2008. 
 
DOCUMENT 2 
 
SNH’S APPRAISAL OF THE PROPOSAL IN RELATION TO POSSIBLE 
EFFECTS ON TAYNISH AND KNAPDALE WOODS SAC
  AND KNAPDALE 
LOCHS SPA. 
 
 
CONTENTS: 
 

1.  INTRODUCTION 
 
2.  THE PROPOSAL 
 
3.  THE QUALIFYING INTERESTS FOR TAYNISH AND KNAPDALE 
WOODS SAC AND KNAPDALE LOCHS SPA 
 
4.  CONSERVATION OBJECTIVES FOR TAYNISH AND KNAPDALE 
WOODS SAC AND KNAPDALE LOCHS SPA 
 
5.  LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENTS FOR EUROPEAN SITES  
 
6.  APPRAISAL AS TO WHETHER IT CAN BE ASCERTAINED THAT THE 
PROPOSAL WILL NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE 
SITES  
 
6.1 General issues 
 
 6.2 Appraisal: Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC - Oak woodland 
 
 6.3 Appraisal: Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC - Oligo-
mesotrophic lochs 
 
 6.4 Appraisal: Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC – Otter 
 
 6.5 Appraisal: Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC – Marsh fritillary 
butterfly 
 
6.6 Appraisal: Knapdale Lochs SPA – Black-throated diver 
 
6.7 Summary of appraisals as to whether it can be ascertained that 
the proposal will not adversely affect the integrity of the sites 
 


1. INTRODUCTION 
 
In December 2007 a partnership of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland 
(RZSS) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) submitted a licence application to 
Scottish Government (SG) for the release of European beaver Castor fiber to 
Knapdale Forest, mid-Argyll, for the purposes of a trial reintroduction.  
 
Under domestic legislation, it is an offence to release into the wild any animal 
which is of a kind not ordinarily resident in Great Britain (Section 14 of the 
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)).  In order for a trial 
reintroduction to proceed at Knapdale, a licence is therefore required from the 
Scottish Government.  
 
A proportion of the proposed trial reintroduction area (defined as that part of 
Knapdale Forest owned by FCS) lies within part of the Taynish and Knapdale 
Woods SAC.  Also, part of Knapdale Lochs SPA (Loch Clachaig) is situated 
within the proposed trial reintroduction area. Animals will be released at three 
specific lochs within the SAC but it is possible, during the five year trial, that they 
may move to other parts of the overall trial area including other parts of the SAC, 
and Loch Clachaig within the SPA. No other Natura sites occur within the 
proposed trial area. 
 
This document provides SNH’s advice to the Scottish Government in relation to 
the appraisal of the proposal in relation to the SAC and SPA in line with the 
requirements of Article 6.3 of Council Directive 92/43/EEC (the ‘Habitats 
Directive’), as transposed by regulation 48 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, 
&c.) Regulations 1994, as amended (the ‘Habitats Regulations’).  
 
This appraisal will be restricted specifically to the proposed trial as described in 
the licence application submitted by RZSS and SWT.  
 
SNH has a standard approach when dealing with proposals potentially affecting 
Natura sites, which reflects the legal stages set out in Regulations 48 and 49 of 
the Habitats Regulations. The three main steps which need to be addressed are: 
 
Step 1:  Is the proposal directly connected with or necessary to site 
management for nature conservation?  - If it is judged that the answer is no, 
then the next step has to be addressed.  
 
Step 2: Is the proposal likely to have a significant effect on the site? - This is 
a relatively simple decision, but it is an important step. It is like a scoping 
stage to remove proposals which can be easily dismissed from further 
consideration. A significant effect may be positive or negative. If it is judged 
that there is likely significant effect, then the next step has to be addressed. 
 
Step 3:  Can it be ascertained that the proposal will not adversely affect the 
integrity of the site?  -  An ‘appropriate assessment’ by the appropriate 
 


competent authority is required at this stage. This involves an assessment of 
the implications for the site’s conservation objectives (identified in section 4 
of this document).  The answer to this question might be yes, but could 
require certain conditions to be put in place. 
 
This document addresses all three steps. 
 
Since this appraisal covers the trial project as described in the licence 
application, this means that once the trial has been completed, a consideration of 
the effects of any retention of beavers at Knapdale on the qualifying interests of 
the Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC and Knapdale Lochs SPA will need to be 
undertaken. This will need to be considered as part of a wider assessment as to 
whether beavers should be reintroduced to Scotland.         
 
 
 

 


2. THE PROPOSAL 
 
The licence application proposes that beavers will be captured in Norway in 
autumn 2008, placed in quarantine for a six month period and then three to four 
families will be released at Knapdale in spring 2009. The proposed release sites 
are Loch Coille Bharr, Loch Linne/ Loch Fidhle and Creagmhor Loch/ small 
unnamed loch immediately to the west. This will be followed by a five year period 
of monitoring which will run until Spring 2014. An exit strategy is an integral part 
of a project plan.   
 
The application states that the primary aims of the trial reintroduction are to:  
 
•  Study the ecology of the beaver in the Scottish environment; 
•  Assess the effects of beaver activities on the environment, including  a 
range of land uses; 
•  Generate information during the proposed trial release that will inform a 
potential further release of beavers at other sites with different habitat 
characteristics;   
•  Explore the environmental education opportunities that may arise from the 
trial itself and the scope for a wider programme should the trial be 
successful;   
•  Determine the extent and impact of any increased tourism generated 
through the presence of beaver. 
 
The proposed trial location is within the area of Knapdale Forest managed by 
Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES).  Part of this area falls within the northern, 
Knapdale component of the Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC. It is not 
proposed to release beavers within the southern, Taynish component of the SAC 
which is separated from the Knapdale component by approximately 0.5km of 
sea.   Part of Knapdale Lochs SPA lies within the proposed trial area, although in 
a separate catchment to the proposed release sites. 
 
 


3. THE QUALIFYING INTERESTS FOR TAYNISH AND KNAPDALE WOODS 
SAC AND KNAPDALE LOCHS SPA 
 
The Habitats Directive Annex I habitats for which Taynish and Knapdale Woods 
SAC has been classified is shown below. 
 
HABITATS DIRECTIVE ANNEX I  EU CODE FOR 
ABBREVIATED TERM 
HABITATS FOR WHICH THE 
HABITATS DIRECTIVE 
USED IN THIS DOCUMENT 
SITE HAS BEEN DESIGNATED 
ANNEX I HABITAT 
AS AN SAC 
TYPE  
 
Old sessile oak woods with Ilex 

H91A0 
OAK WOODLAND 
and Blechnum in the British 
Isles
  
 
Oligotrophic to mesotrophic 
H3130 
OLIGO-MESOTROPHIC 
standing waters with 
LOCHS 
vegetation of the Littoreletea 
 
uniflorae and/or of the Isoëto-
Nanjuncetea
  
 
 
 
The Habitats Directive Annex II species for which Taynish and Knapdale Woods 
SAC  has been classified are shown below. 
 
HABITATS DIRECTIVE ANNEX 
EU CODE FOR 
COMMON NAME USED IN 
II SPECIES FOR WHICH THE 
HABITATS DIRECTIVE 
THIS DOCUMENT 
SITE HAS BEEN DESIGNATED 
ANNEX II SPECIES 
AS AN SAC 
 
Lutra lutra
  
S1355 
OTTER 
 
Euphydryas (Eurodryas, 

S1065 
MARSH FRITILLARY 
Hypodryas) aurinia  
BUTTERFLY 
 
 
 
The Birds Directive Annex I species for which Knapdale Lochs  SPA has been 
classified is shown below. 
 
BIRDS DIRECTIVE ANNEX I SPECIES FOR 
COMMON NAME USED IN THIS 
WHICH THE SITE HAS BEEN DESIGNATED 
DOCUMENT 
AS AN SPA 
 
Gavia arctica 

BLACK-THROATED DIVER 
 
 
 
 
 


4. CONSERVATION OBJECTIVES FOR TAYNISH AND KNAPDALE WOODS 
SAC AND KNAPDALE LOCHS SPA 
 
Conservation objectives for the SAC and SPA, in relation to Article 6.3 of the 
Habitats Directive, and regulation 48 of the Habitats Regulations, are given 
below. 
 
Habitats Directive Annex I habitats 
 
To avoid deterioration of  the qualifying habitats (listed below) thus ensuring that the integrity of 
the site is maintained and the site makes an appropriate contribution to achieving favorable 
conservation status for each of the qualifying features; and  
 
To ensure for the qualifying habitats that the following are maintained in the long term:  
 
- Extent of the habitat on site 
- Distribution of the habitat within site 
- Structure and function of the habitat 
- Processes supporting the habitat 
- Distribution of typical species of the habitat 
- Viability of typical species as components of the habitat 
- No significant disturbance of typical species of the habitat  
 
Qualifying Habitats: 
- Oak woodland  
- Oligo-mesotrophoc lochs
 
 
 
Habitats Directive Annex II species 
 
To avoid deterioration of the habitats of the qualifying species (listed below) or significant 
disturbance to the qualifying species, thus ensuring that the integrity of the site is maintained and 
the site makes an appropriate contribution to achieving favorable conservation status for each of 
the qualifying features; and  
 
To ensure for the qualifying species that the following are maintained in the long term: 
 
- Population of the species as a viable component of the site 
- Distribution of the species within site 
- Distribution and extent of habitats supporting the species 
- Structure, function and supporting processes of habitats supporting the species 
- No significant disturbance of the species  
 
Qualifying Species: 
Otter  
- Marsh fritillary butterfly
 
 
 
 


Birds Directive Annex I species 
 
To avoid deterioration of the habitats of the qualifying species (listed below) or significant 
disturbance to the qualifying species, thus ensuring that the integrity of the site is maintained; and  
 
To ensure for the qualifying species that the following are maintained in the long term: 
 
- Population of the species as a viable component of the site 
- Distribution of the species within site 
- Distribution and extent of habitats supporting the species 
- Structure, function and supporting processes of habitats supporting the species 
- No significant disturbance of the species  
 
Qualifying Species: 
Black-throated diver 
 
 
 
 
 


5. LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENTS FOR EUROPEAN SITES  
 
The following stages need to be considered as required under Article 6.3 of the 
Habitats Directive and regulation 48 of the Habitats Regulations, and laid out in 
Revised Circular 6/95: 
 
•  Determine whether the proposal is directly connected with or necessary to 
site management for conservation; and, if not, 
•  determine whether the proposal is likely to have a significant effect on the 
site either individually or in combination with other plans or projects; and, if 
so, then 
•  make an appropriate assessment of the implications (of the proposal) for 
the site in view of that site's conservation objectives. 
 
The proposal is not directly connected with or necessary to site management for 
nature conservation.  Hence, further consideration is required. 
 
It is therefore necessary to consider whether the proposal to reintroduce 
European beaver is likely to have a significant effect on the Taynish and 
Knapdale Woods SAC and Knapdale Lochs SPA.   
 
SNH’s advice is that the proposal is likely to have a significant effect on the 
qualifying interests of the SAC and the SPA. SNH’s view is that, as a 
consequence, the Scottish Government is required to undertake an appropriate 
assessment of the proposal for the SAC and SPA in view of the sites’ 
conservation objectives for their qualifying interests.    
 
SNH’s appraisal of whether it can be ascertained that the proposal will not 
adversely affect the integrity of the site is outlined in the following sections. Five 
separate appraisals are provided, together with a summary, as follows: 
 

6.2 Appraisal: Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC - Oak woodland 
 

6.3 Appraisal: Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC - Oligo-mesotrophic 
lochs 
 

6.4 Appraisal: Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC – Otter 
 

6.5 Appraisal: Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC – Marsh fritillary butterfly 
 

6.6 Appraisal: Knapdale Lochs SPA – Black-throated diver 
 

6.7 Summary of appraisals as to whether it can be ascertained that the 
proposal will not adversely affect the integrity of the sites 
 


6. APPRAISAL AS TO WHETHER IT CAN BE ASCERTAINED THAT THE 
PROPOSAL WILL NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE 
SITES  
 
6.1 General issues 
 
The trial reintroduction, as described in the licence application, will result in a 
number of potential issues that SNH considers will contribute to significant effect 
in the context of Regulation 48 (1). There are other issues not explicitly referred 
to in the licence application which SNH also considers will be relevant to the 
appropriate assessment. These issues can be broadly summarised as follows: 
 
Issues relating to beaver activities: 
 

•  Effects of beaver grazing activities, trampling etc. on qualifying interests. 
 
•  Effects of habitat modification behaviour (e.g. damming, canal 
construction, lodge construction) of beavers on qualifying interests.  
 
•  Effects of beaver presence on behaviour and ecology of resident 
qualifying interest species and qualifying habitat ‘typical species’.   
 
Issues relating to human activities associated with the beaver project:  
 

•  Construction of artificial lodges by project staff to reduce risk of beaver 
dispersal immediately after release. 
 
•  Erection of fencing by project staff to reduce risk of beaver dispersal 
immediately after release, and to exclude beaver from specific areas. 
 
•  Other potential effects (e.g. disturbance of qualifying interest species and 
qualifying habitat ‘typical species’) resulting from fieldwork activities of 
beaver project staff, associated contractors, researchers, film-makers etc.  

 
•  *Effects of increased visitor pressure, including addition of small-scale 
interpretative facilities. 
 
(*Note: The following appraisal assumes relatively low levels of visitors in the 
early stages of the project, and the simple interpretative facilities such as self-
guided, or guided visits. If there are plans for other visitor facilities, a further 
appraisal will be required). 
 
To provide some context, a GIS analysis has been undertaken by SNH using 
National Vegetation Classification (NVC) survey data collected in 2003. The 
analysis included data for the Knapdale component and the Taynish component 
of the overall SAC –  this is because the proposal is to release beavers to the 
 


Knapdale component and exclude them from the Taynish component for the 
duration of the trial. The analysis also included the use of ‘buffers’ (bordered 
zones artificially created by GIS) around freshwater features. Beaver activity is 
heavily weighted to the riparian zone, particularly the area up to 10m from water 
edge. However they can also forage, albeit much less frequently, up to 100m 
from the water edge. Buffers were therefore produced for 10m and 100m from 
freshwater edge, and separate analyses of NVC data undertaken for the areas 
within them (note: beaver will forage further afield under unusual circumstances, 
e.g. to reach aspen stands, but 10m and 100m buffers are deemed to be realistic  
for the purposes of this analysis). 
 
It is very unlikely that all the areas within the 10m buffer, and especially the 100m 
buffer, will be affected by beaver during the trial period. 
 
The main results of the analysis can be summarised as follows;  
(Note  -  National Vegetation Classification (NVC) Woodland community codes 
used below are; ‘W’ = woodland communities; ‘M’ = mire communities; ‘H12a’ = a 
heathland community; ‘S3’ = tussock-edge swamp; ‘U’ = acid grassland):  
 
•  The overall area of Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC is 966ha (587ha in 
the Knapdale component, plus 379ha in the Taynish component), of which 
85ha (8.8%) is within the 10m buffer of the Knapdale component of the 
SAC, and 231ha (23.9%) within 100m buffer (note that 63ha of the area 
within both the 10m and 100m buffers is open water).  
 
•  The total area of Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC woodland as defined 
by NVC 'W' communities, is 447ha. Out of this total of NVC ‘W’ 
communities, 8ha (1.9%) lies within the 10m buffer of Knapdale, and 61ha 
(13.6%) within 100m buffer of Knapdale (therefore 98.1% of all the SAC’s 
NVC 'W' communities lie outwith the 10m Knapdale buffer, and 86.4% 
outwith the 100m buffer) 
 
•  Of the 8 ha of NVC 'W' communities within the 10m buffer of the Knapdale 
component, 73% is NVC sub-community W17b, 21% is W7b, 3% is W11b 
(plus smaller areas of other sub-communities) 
 
•  Of the 61 ha of NVC 'W' communities within the 100m buffer of the 
Knapdale component, 72% is NVC sub-community W17b, 9% is W7b, 
10% is W11b (plus smaller areas of other sub-communities) 
 
•  Within the 10m buffer of Knapdale, the main NVC habitat types are: 
-  ‘Open water’: 63ha (6.5% of overall SAC area) 
-  'W': 8ha  (0.9% of overall SAC area) 
-  'M': 6ha (0.6% of overall SAC area) 
-  ‘Felled’: 4ha (0.4% of overall SAC area) 
-  plus less than 2ha of conifer plantation, ‘H12a’, ‘S3’, U. 
 
10 

 
•  Within the 100m buffer of Knapdale, the major main NVC communities 
are: 
-  ‘Open water’: 63ha (6.5% of overall SAC area) 
-  'W': 61ha  (6.3% of overall SAC area) 
-  'M': 32ha (3.3% of overall SAC area) 
-  ‘Felled’: 43ha (4.4% of overall SAC area) 
-  plus less than 17ha of conifer plantation, ‘H12a’, ‘S3’, U. 
 
Further details on the habitat types within the ‘open water’ category are included 
in Section 6.3.
 
11 

6.2 APPRAISAL: TAYNISH AND KNAPDALE WOODS SAC - OAK 
WOODLAND 
 
 
6.2.1 Introduction 
 
The overall SAC has an area of approximately 966ha. However, the proposal is 
to undertake the trial in the Knapdale component of the SAC (587ha). The 
Taynish component of the SAC lies to the south-west of the Knapdale 
component and, at their closest point the two components are approximately 
0.5km from each other across an area of sea.  
 
Beaver activity is very much weighted towards freshwater riparian areas. The 
majority of their time, and foraging effort, is spent either within water or within 
10m of water edge. They may occasionally forage  up to a few tens of metres   
away from water edge.   
 
The GIS analysis set out in section 6.1 indicates that there is about 23ha of 
terrestrial habitat within 10m of freshwater edge within the Knapdale component 
of the SAC (2.3% of the overall SAC area) which, potentially, could be affected 
by beaver grazing activities (ranging up to 23.9% of the SAC area within the 
100m buffer).  Within this 23ha, 8ha can be defined as NVC woodland 
communities, which is 0.8% of the overall SAC area and 1.9% of the overall area 
of NVC woodland communities in the SAC.  
 
However, it should be noted that it is not possible to undertake a direct read-
across from the NVC communities to the Annex I qualifying interest. The Annex I 
interest of oak woodland, CORINE code 41.53 (full name ‘old sessile oak woods 
with  Ilex  and  Blechnum  in the British Isles’), is described in the Interpretation 
Manual of European Union Habitats (April 2003) as having the corresponding 
NVC woodland communities W10 (not recorded at Taynish and Knapdale SAC), 
W11 and W17. Even so, some patches categorised by these NVC communities 
at Knapdale may not necessarily have oak present, and other tree species may 
be more dominant. For the purposes of this appraisal the precautionary approach 
has been taken, and the assumption made that all areas covered by these NVC 
communities relate to the oak woodland qualifying interest.  
 
However, there may be areas within the SAC covered by other NVC communities 
which could also be important to the conservation objectives of the oak woodland 
qualifying interest, for example if they contribute to the functional connectivity of 
the qualifying interest or to overall site integrity. Beaver may also affect non-
woodland NVC communities, for example though foraging in areas of mire, areas 
of recently felled conifer plantation etc. 
 
Beaver activity within the riparian zones will include grazing, both on the aquatic, 
semi-aquatic and ground flora (especially in the warmer months) and on woody 
 
12 

species (especially during the cooler months). Woody plants with diameters of 3-
8cm are grazed most frequently, although plants outwith these size categories 
can also be grazed. It is anticipated that the majority of woody species found 
within the riparian zones will be suitable for beaver. 
 
Beavers usually have the entrances of their dens/lodges underwater. In 
situations where existing water levels are insufficiently low, they may dam to 
raise the water levels. There is therefore the possibility that, in some areas under 
certain circumstances, water will be raised with some areas of riparian habitat 
affected. This is expected to be most likely to occur along some of the shallow, 
interconnecting burns within the trial area.  
 
Grazing activity and changes in local hydrology, could affect certain patches of  
woodland, including ‘typical species’ of oak woodland, primarily those associated 
with stands of mature trees such as lichen assemblages.  
 
Impacts caused by human-related activities associated with the project could 
include increased visitor pressure,  and localised effects of small-scale 
constructions such as the building of artificial lodges.  
 
European beaver is a natural component of woodlands in Europe. This is 
reflected by the fact that there are 580 SACs within the EU (within nine Member 
States)  where both beaver and Habitats Directive Annex I “temperate forest” 
habitats are both identified as SAC interests (it is not possible to do this analysis 
specifically for oak woodland, which is a “temperate forest” habitat, as this Annex 
I habitat type only occurs in Britain and Ireland).  
 
Therefore there is a likely significant effect from the proposed trial due to beaver 
grazing activities and altering of water levels, plus the effects of small-scale 
works by beaver project personnel, and increased visitor numbers.   
 
6.2.2 Conservation Objectives 
In order to determine the effects of the proposal on site integrity, the conservation 
objectives which apply to the oak woodland interest are examined in turn below.  
 
The conservation objectives are to ensure for the qualifying habitat, oak 
woodland, that the following are maintained in the long term; 
 
Extent of the habitat on site 
The analysis above indicates that the terrestrial area that is more likely to be 
potentially affected by beaver grazing activity is the 23ha within 10m of 
freshwater (2.3% of the overall SAC area). Eight hectares of this falls within the 
NVC ‘W’ woodland community type. Not all of this area will, in practice, be 
affected by beaver during the trial as beavers will be less active further  away 
from their dens/lodges.  
 
 
13 

The SAC consists of intricate mosaics with woodland stands, heavily influenced 
by site topography. In terms of the issue of dam building by beaver, the 
topography, which is dominated by a series of parallel hills and valleys, is such 
that the vast majority of the qualifying woodland interest is situated on land above 
the height that would be affected by any localised flooding.  Dam building on the 
outflows of lochs will not be an issue assuming the recommended mitigation set 
out for the oligo-mesotrophic lochs habitat qualifying interest is applied (see 
section 6.3). This mitigation will ensure that loch water levels will be maintained 
around current levels during the trial. 
 
However, in addition to the lochs there are also interconnecting freshwater burns 
running throughout the SAC which beavers may dam in some places. Many 
sections of the interconnecting burns are on higher gradients which beavers are 
less likely to dam (beavers prefer gradients of less than 2%). The majority of the 
lengths of burns within the SAC flow through areas bordered by habitat described 
in NVC surveys as conifer plantation, felled or recently felled conifer plantation, 
mire and heather dominated. Some of these habitat types (such as conifer 
plantation) are clearly not such important components of the oak woodland 
interest and so if they became wetter as a result of dam building this would not 
be judged to be affecting site integrity. If burns adjacent to woodland areas were 
dammed, and became flooded, then there will be localised changes to the 
woodland. This could be beneficial, such as increases in standing dead wood 
(and the habitat of associated typical species) which is usually limited in native 
woodlands. However if a dam was created in an area where the extent of the 
woodland affected was judged to be of concern, then the dam will require to be 
regulated or removed prior to flooding of the area. This will require the monitoring 
of dam building during the trial, and SNH to be quickly informed. SNH will make 
judgements on a case by case basis. 
 
In the longer term any dams that are created would eventually be abandoned 
and water levels would subsequently decrease to previous levels, and the habitat 
types within previously inundated patches would change again. 
 
We expect no adverse impact on the extent of qualifying woodland habitat if the 
recommended mitigation is addressed, rather some change in its structure and 
species composition in some localised riparian areas.   
 
Distribution of the habitat within site 
Beaver activity will tend to be restricted to relatively narrow, riparian zones and 
the animals will rarely move through, or have any effect on, most of the area of 
oak woodland distributed throughout the site. In all, 97.7% of the overall SAC 
area  is outwith the 10m buffer of terrestrial habitat fringing freshwater areas in 
which beavers are most likely to be active (in addition to freshwater habitat itself). 
There may be localised changes to structure and species composition but the 
distribution of the overall habitat within the site will not be adversely impacted.  
 
 
14 

Structure and function of the habitat 
The speed of regeneration of natural woodland from previous sitka spruce stands 
may be slightly checked in places by beaver grazing but such effects are likely to 
be very localised.  A particularly large-scale programme of conifer removal a few 
years ago has resulted in very dense birch stands in some places. The effect of 
beaver grazing in areas of dense regeneration is expected to be the opening of 
patches of birch, thereby allowing other species to move in. Much of the 
regeneration is on the drier areas of the SAC, which are less likely to be targeted 
by beavers. 
 
The oak woodland within the SAC is already characterised by a wide range of 
ground and field layer vegetation. Further diversification, on a small scale, of 
these woodland layers through beaver activity is considered to be compatible 
with this conservation objective. 
 
Processes supporting the habitat 
Short, medium or long-term changes in the vegetative structure and/or hydrology 
of localised areas of riparian woodland as a result of beaver activity would not 
affect the integrity of existing patterns of natural woodland development and, 
indeed, could increase the overall conservation value of the site (for example, by 
increasing the amount of standing dead wood and fallen dead wood, thereby 
increasing habitat for dead wood ‘typical species’). Such changes would be 
compatible with this conservation objective. 
 
It is highly likely that the European beaver was once a natural component of this 
habitat type. The trial will therefore result in the restoration of what was likely to 
have once been one of the more significant and influential species of Scottish 
woodland. 
 
Effects on typical species of  the habitat (distribution, viability and 
disturbance) 
Adverse impacts on the distribution of most typical species is not expected. 
There may be some ‘typical species’, however, which could be more affected.  
 
A small number of aspen trees Populus tremulus are known to occur in the Faery 
Isles. The species is preferentially selected by beaver as a food source. 
However, the communities associated with the aspen of the Scottish west coast 
are not as unique as aspen in eastern Scotland. Although it is likely that they 
support some species of the characteristic Lobarion and Graphidion communities 
– as do most broadleaved tree species in this area – it is not believed that they 
do so to the extent of being integral to the habitat.  There are also no obvious 
freshwater bodies in the Faery Isles area, and consequently it is not expected 
that beaver will move into this part of the SAC. 
 
 
15 

Impact on the bryophyte assemblages is not judged to be a problematic issue. 
Much of the bryophyte resource of particular conservation interest is associated 
with rocks and boulders, rather than trees. 
 
There are stands of hazel Corylus avellana  of high conservation value that are 
known to be within the distance from freshwater that beaver can forage (e.g. the 
stand of hazel to the north-east of Loch Barnluasgan). The tree diameters of the 
hazel are within the sizes most frequently grazed by beaver. These hazel stands 
are important for their lichen assemblages.  
 
Since beaver could, potentially, affect these hazel stands and their associated 
‘typical species’ of lichens, it will be necessary to arrange for suitable protection 
for these in localised areas (to exclude beaver, not deer), following discussion 
with SNH. This would ensure that this component of the site will not be adversely 
impacted. 
 
The issue of beaver dam creation is addressed under the ‘Extent of the habitat’ 
heading above. If beaver dams were built on burns near stands of hazel, then the 
mitigation described would ensure the site will not be adversely impacted. 
 
Beavers will not significantly disturb typical species of the habitat. However, the 
presence of people, and dogs etc., can result in disturbance to some animal 
species under certain scenarios. The issue of visitor management linked to the 
beaver proposal is therefore relevant to this conservation objective. 
   
There are proposals to develop visitor facilities at the site.  This would largely be 
targeted at the provision of visitor information and interpretation within the 
existing FCS buildings at Barnluasgan (NR791909) and Barr an Daimh 
(NR796917), where the majority of visitors would be channelled through the use 
of signage and existing parking facilities.  The aim is to manage visitors at the 
existing information and interpretation ‘honeypots’, and to avoid large increase of 
visitors moving into the more sensitive areas of the SAC.  
 
There are already designated public footpaths, cycling tracks etc within the SAC 
area. For those visitors who wish to move away from the FCS facilities, provision 
will need to be put in place to allow self-guided and guided walks which are 
designed to utilise these existing public footpaths.  
 
On the basis that an overall visitor management plan is agreed and implemented 
prior to the release of beaver and throughout the project (e.g. signage, 
interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for self-guided and guided 
walks etc.), and this plan and the design of associated facilities are discussed 
with SNH, the site will not be adversely impacted.  
 
Note that this appraisal assumes relatively low levels of visitors in the early 
stages of the project, and the provision of the interpretative facilities as described 
 
16 

above. If there are plans for other visitor facilities (e.g. there is a future proposal 
for a hide to be set up near a beaver lodge – but this cannot be assessed until 
the location of any proposed hide is known, which in turn cannot be identified 
until the beavers set up a lodge), a further appraisal will be required. 
 
 
6.2.3 SNH Advice in relation to effects on oak woodland 
 
Background 
 
The proposal consists of a trial reintroduction of European beaver to Knapdale.  
This lies partly within Special Area of Conservation (SAC) classified for Old 
sessile oak woods with Ilex  and  Blechnum  in the British Isles  (referred to 
elsewhere in this document as oak woodland). 
 
The site's status as a classified SAC under the EC Directive 92/43/EEC on the 
conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora  (the “Habitats 
Directive”), means that the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 
1994 as amended, (the “Habitats Regulations”) apply.  The requirements are 
summarised in SE Circular 6/1995 as amended June 2000 and include, at 
paragraph 12: 
 
"The Regulations (48) require that, where an authority concludes that a 
development proposal unconnected with the nature conservation management of 
a Natura 2000 site is likely to have a significant effect on that site, it must 
undertake an appropriate assessment of the implications for the conservation 
interests for which the area has been designated." 
 
SNH’s advice is that this proposal is likely to have a significant effect on 
the qualifying interest of the site
.  However SNH would further advise the 
Scottish Government that on the basis of the appraisal carried out to date, 
that if the proposal is undertaken strictly in accordance with the following 
conditions, then the proposal will not adversely affect the integrity of the 
site.
 
 
a)  Beaver dam construction on burns to be carefully monitored and SNH to 
be informed immediately once new dams are created. An assessment will 
then be made by SNH on a case by case basis and, if judged necessary, 
management of the dam will be required. 
 
b)  Stands of hazel, which hold significant communities of ‘typical species’ of 
lichens, should be protected where necessary using appropriate methods 
and following discussion and agreement with SNH.  
 
c)  A visitor management plan must be agreed and implemented prior to the 
release of beaver and during the lifetime of the project (addressing issues 
 
17 

such as signage, interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for 
self-guided and guided walks etc.). This plan and the design of associated 
facilities must be discussed and agreed with SNH. 
 
It should be noted that Scottish Government is required to undertake an 
appropriate assessment of the implications of the proposal for the site in view of 
the site’s conservation objectives for its qualifying interest(s).  This assessment 
may be based on the above appraisal by SNH but the Scottish Government may 
wish to carry out further appraisal before completing the appropriate assessment.  
 
 
18 

6.3 APPRAISAL: TAYNISH AND KNAPDALE WOODS SAC  -  OLIGO-
MESOTROPHOC LOCHS 
 
6.3.1 Introduction 
 
The overall SAC has an area of approximately 966ha. However, the proposal is 
to undertake the trial in the Knapdale component of the SAC (587ha). The 
Taynish component of the SAC lies to the south-west of the Knapdale 
component and, at their closest point the two components are approximately 
0.5km from each other across an area of sea.  
 
Beaver  activity is very much weighted towards freshwater riparian areas. The 
majority of their time, and foraging effort, is spent either within water or within 
10m of water edge. They may occasionally forage up to a few tens of metres   
away from water edge.   
 
Within the SAC there are eight freshwater lochs within four different main 
catchments:  
 
•  Lochan Taynish – 11.2ha area, perimeter of 2km.  The 1989 Freshwater 
Loch Survey classified it as a Type 2 loch (Palmer et al. 1992). Based on 
these results it has also been described as a Group C2 type oligotrophic 
loch (Duigan et al. 2006).  It was described as in “favourable condition” on 
the basis of 2004 SCM (Site Condition Monitoring) results. 
 
•  Loch Barnluasgan – 5.3ha area, perimeter of 1.2km. The 1989 Freshwater 
Loch Survey classified it as a Type 3 oligotrophic loch (Palmer et al. 
1992).  Based on these results it has also been described as a Group D 
type oligotrophic loch (Duigan et al.  2006). The invasive species Elodea 
canadensis  
was recorded. E. canadensis  was also recorded in the loch 
during the 2004 SCM survey, at a frequency of 2%.  However, it was 
considered naturalised (unlike in Loch Coille-Bharr, see below). The loch 
was described as in “favourable condition” on the basis of the 2004 SCM 
results. It is upstream of Loch Coille-Bharr. 
 
•  Loch Coille-Bharr  –  33.4ha area, perimeter of 4.4km. The 1989 
Freshwater Loch Survey classified it as a Type 5A loch (Palmer et al. 
1992). Based on these results it has also been described as a Group D 
type oligotrophic loch (Duigan et al.  2006). The invasive species E. 
canadensis
 was recorded in the loch for the first time during a 2004 SCM 
survey, at a frequency of 4%.  The loch was therefore described as in 
“favourable condition (at risk)” on the basis of the 2004 SCM results. It is 
downstream of Loch Barnluasgan. 
 
•  Un-named loch (100m east of Loch Fidhle) –  1.2ha area, perimeter of 
0.6km This loch was not surveyed as part of the 1989 Freshwater Loch 
 
19 

Survey or the 2004 SCM survey. Murphy et al.  (2002) surveyed the loch 
but  did not classify the loch type due to a lack of data on submerged 
areas.  It is upstream of Loch Linne/Loch Fidhle.  
 
•  Loch Fidhle – 3.6ha area, perimeter of 0.9km. This loch was not surveyed 
as part of the 1989 Freshwater Loch Survey or the 2004 SCM survey. 
Murphy et al. (2002) surveyed the loch and classified it as a Type 5B loch 
(Palmer et al. 1992).  This is a mesotrophic loch habitat type. Loch Fidhle 
is immediately east of, and connected to, Loch Linne and downstream of 
the un-named loch described above. 
 
•  Loch Linne – 16.5ha area, perimeter of 3.1km. The 1989 Freshwater Loch 
Survey classified it as a Type 3 loch (Palmer et al. 1992).  Based on these 
results it has also been described as a Group C2 type oligotrophic loch 
(Duigan et al. 2006).  It was described as in “favourable condition” on the 
basis of the 2004 SCM results. Loch Fidhle is immediately east of, and 
connected to, Loch Linne, and downstream of the un-named loch 
described above. 
 
•  Creagmhor Loch –  5.3ha area, perimeter of 1.2km. This loch was not 
surveyed as part of the 1989 Freshwater Loch Survey or the 2004 SCM 
survey. Murphy et al. (2002) surveyed the loch and classified it as a Type 
2 loch (Palmer et al. 1992).  This falls within the oligotrophic to 
mesotrophic loch habitat type. 
 
•  Dubh Loch  -  0.3ha area, perimeter of 0.3km. This small lochan was not 
surveyed as part of the 1989 Freshwater Loch Survey, the 2004 SCM 
survey or by Murphy et al. (2002). The loch type has not been classified. It 
is approximately 100m east of Loch Coille-Bharr, although there is no 
obvious surface connection to it. 
 
Therefore, of the lochs identified above, Lochan Taynish, Loch Barnluasgan, 
Loch Coille-Bharr, Loch Linne/ Fidhle and Creagmhor Loch are known to fall 
within the oligotrophic to mesotrophic habitat type. Note that Lochan Taynish is 
within the Taynish component of the SAC from which beaver will be excluded 
during the trial.  
 
The proposal states that beaver families would be released at sites on the edge 
of Loch Coille-Bharr, Loch Linne/Fidhle and Creagmhor Loch. Therefore, since 
the former two are connected other standing waters situated upstream within the 
SAC, it is likely that beavers could be active in all the lochs within the Knapdale 
component of the SAC at some time during the trial period. 
 
Potential beaver effects relevant to this habitat type include grazing activities. 
Beaver will feed on a wide range of terrestrial, aquatic and semi-aquatic plant 
 
20 

species. Consequently they are expected to graze on submerged species, 
floating species, emergents, and littoral species.  
 
Beavers usually have the entrances of their dens/lodges to be underwater. In 
situations where existing water levels are insufficiently low, they may dam to 
raise the water levels. This is expected to be most likely to occur along some of 
the shallow, interconnecting burns within the trial area. In the case of the 
standing waters, the water levels are already sufficiently high for beaver, and 
they are less likely to dam. However, it is possible they may attempt to dam 
outflows of the standing waters and raise water levels by a limited amount (i.e. 
water levels would not have to be raised as much as for a shallow burn). Water 
levels in the lochs are known to vary. SNH monitored water levels through 
monthly checking of fixed stage boards at all of the lochs within the Knapdale 
component of the SAC between 27/6/02 and 12/10/05. The following gives an 
indication of water level variation recorded for each loch during this period: 
 
-  Loch Barnluasgan - 34cm 
-  Loch Coille-Bharr - 33cm  
-  Unnamed loch (east of Fidhle) - 12cm 
-  Lochs Linne/Fidhle - 41cm 
-  Creagmhor Loch - 22cm 
-  Dubh Loch - 27cm 
 
The effect of any dam construction at the outflow may be to produce higher 
levels than at present.  
 
Any damming of burns upstream of the standing waters may result in decreases 
in the sediment load, although this is expected to be minor. Changes to water 
chemistry are expected to be limited within the standing waters since they are 
relatively large, and effects will be buffered. 
 
European beaver is a natural component of freshwater ecosystems in Europe. 
This is reflected by the fact that there are 98 SACs within the EU (within seven 
Member States) where both beaver and oligo-mesotrophic lochs, of the type 
found at Knapdale, are both identified as SAC interests. There are also other 
SACs where other types of Annex I standing water interests occur with beaver. 
 
In summary, there is a likely significant effect from the proposed trial due to 
beaver grazing activities and potential altering of water levels. Issues relating to 
visitors to the beaver project could also have a significant effect, particularly in 
relation to disturbance of typical species.  
 
6.3.2 Conservation Objectives 
In order to determine the effects of the proposal on site integrity, the conservation 
objectives which apply to the oligo-mesotrophic lochs interest are examined in 
turn below.  
 
21 

 
The conservation objectives are to ensure for the qualifying habitat, oligo-
mesotrophic lochs, that the following are maintained in the long term; 
 
Extent of the habitat on site 
The SAC consists of intricate mosaics of aquatic macrophyte, and other semi-
aquatic and emergent plant communities within the standing waters of the site. 
Based on the European experience, this heterogeneous pattern of vegetation is 
expected to be maintained.  
 
A study of beaver effects on aquatic macrophytes has been undertaken at a 
Scottish site where animals are kept in large enclosures (Jones 2006). Beaver-
proof exclosures placed in and around a well-developed loch system were used 
to examine the effect of grazing on macrophyte communities over two years. 
Aquatic macrophyte species richness was found to be slightly higher outside than 
inside the exclosures, in both sampling years. When the annual datasets were 
combined, the results showed the  same trend, although the higher species 
richness outside than inside the exclosures was not significant. Beavers had no 
discernible impact on Potamogeton natans which was the dominant macrophyte 
at the site. Beavers fed on the basal shoots and rhizomes of  a number of 
emergent species, including Iris pseudacorus, Menyanthes trifoliata, Equisetum 
fluviatile
  and  Carex rostrata.  The areas affected were <1% of the total area of 
vegetation so such impacts were judged to be negligible compared with the sort 
of impacts that would be associated with storms, natural failures of floating 
macrophyte rafts etc. More recently it has become evident at the study site that 
beavers redistribute fragments of these species so there are now floating rafts 
formed from detached fragments in places where no vegetation had existed 
previously. 
 
We expect no adverse impact on the extent of qualifying standing water habitat, 
rather some localised changes to species composition and structure in some 
specific areas.   
 
Distribution of the habitat within site 
The response as set out for the above conservation objective also applies here.  
 
Structure and function of the habitat 
In the bays/inlets of the lochs where natural succession might normally affect 
aquatic plant communities, beaver activities are likely to result in a local reduction 
of edge scrub invasion and a maintenance of open water areas. This will also 
apply to small standing water bodies such as the small Dubh Loch (although we 
cannot confirm that this particular water body is  an oligo-mesotrophic loch). 
Beaver grazing on riparian trees and shrubs is expected to result in localised, 
patchy reductions in shading in some areas thereby increasing aquatic 
macrophyte growth on a small scale. 
 
22 

 
Water levels in the standing waters are already relatively high, in terms of 
requirements for beavers. Beaver damming of outflows is therefore not as likely 
as the damming on the shallow interconnecting burns, although still possible. At 
the moment there is some existing natural variation in water levels on these lochs 
(e.g. monitoring of water levels at Loch Barnluasgan has shown variations of 
34cm over a 28 month period).  The presence of a beaver dam on the outflow 
would reduce the existing water level fluctuation, and possibly increase levels 
above those at present. In the longer term any dams that are created would 
eventually be abandoned and water levels would subsequently decrease to 
previous levels.  
 
We believe that the damming of loch outflows will probably not be detrimental, 
and may possibly be beneficial. However, we propose that this issue is 
investigated as part of the trial within those lochs not part of the SAC. While this 
issue is investigated further, if beaver dams are created on the SAC loch 
outflows, then they will either be removed, or regulated (e.g. using pipe systems) 
so that the water levels are within the usual natural range. This would ensure the 
site will not be adversely affected. 
 
Processes supporting the habitat 
The issue relating to the possible damming of outflows,  described above, also 
applies here. The effects of damming outflows on water quality in lochs with low 
nutrient levels, which are not receiving anthropogenic nutrient inputs, would not 
be expected to be large. 
 
The construction of beaver dams upstream of standing waters may result in 
minor, localised alterations to quantities and timing of silt inputs to lochs. This 
reduction of silt input could be more significant and beneficial to the oligo-
mesotrophic lochs during large-scale disturbance of soils, for example during 
forestry operations to remove conifer. 
 
The presence of beavers may have some effect on the aquatic plants in this 
habitat type, possibly beneficial. Some localised and small scale modification of 
species abundance and structure in the lochs would be compatible with the 
conservation objective.   
 
North American beaver Castor canadensis  is known to feed extensively on 
Elodea spp. Elodea canadensis, an invasive non-native species, which has been 
recorded in Lochs Barnluasgan and Loch Coille-Bharr (and was identified during 
SCM as a reason for categorising Loch Coille-Bharr loch as “favourable condition 
– at risk”). European beaver is expected to feed on Elodea canadensis and, by 
ensuring the invasive plant does not become too dominant, may be able to play a 
role in reducing any potential detrimental impacts on native species. 
 
 
23 

It is highly likely that the European beaver was once a natural component of this 
habitat type in Scotland, as it currently is in mainland Europe. The trial may 
therefore result in the restoration of what was likely to have once been one of the 
more significant and influential ‘typical species’ of oligo-mesotrophic lochs.  
 
Effects on typical species of the habitat (distribution, viability and 
disturbance) 
Beaver will feed on  a wide range of terrestrial, aquatic and semi-aquatic plant 
species. Consequently they are expected to graze on submerged species, 
floating species, emergents, and littoral species. Beavers will tend to mix their 
diet, rather than concentrate on individual species.  The lochs within the SAC 
contain intricate mosaics of aquatic macrophytes, and other semi-aquatic and 
emergent plant communities within the standing waters of the site. It is expected 
that the overall distribution of the typical species of vegetation in the lochs will be 
maintained (further details in ‘extent of habitat on the site’ above). Similarly, the 
overall distribution of associated invertebrate and vertebrate typical species is 
expected to be maintained.  
 
Beavers will not significantly disturb typical species of the habitat. However, the 
presence of people, and dogs etc., can result in disturbance to some animal 
species under certain scenarios. The issue of visitor management linked to the 
beaver proposal is therefore relevant to this conservation objective. 
   
There are proposals to develop visitor facilities at the site.  This would largely be 
targeted at the provision of visitor information and interpretation within the 
existing FCS buildings at Barnluasgan (NR791909) and Barr an Daimh 
(NR796917), where the majority of visitors would be channelled through the use 
of signage and existing parking facilities.  The aim is to manage visitors at the 
existing information and interpretation ‘honeypots’, and to avoid large increase of 
visitors moving into the more sensitive areas of the SAC.  
 
There are already designated public footpaths, cycling tracks etc within the SAC 
area. For those visitors who wish to move away from the FCS facilities, provision 
will need to be put in place to allow self-guided and guided walks which are 
designed to utilise these existing public footpaths.  
 
On the basis that an overall visitor management plan is agreed and implemented 
prior to the release of beaver and throughout the project (e.g. signage, 
interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for self-guided and guided 
walks etc.), and this plan and the design of associated facilities are discussed 
with SNH, the site will not be adversely impacted.  
 
Note that this appraisal assumes relatively low levels of visitors in the early 
stages of the project, and the provision of the interpretative facilities as described 
above. If there are plans for other visitor facilities (e.g. there is a future proposal 
for a hide to be set up near a beaver lodge – but this cannot be assessed until 
 
24 

the location of any proposed hide is known, which in turn cannot be identified 
until the beavers set up a lodge), a further appraisal will be required. 
 
6.3.3 SNH Advice in relation to effects on oligo-mesotrophic lochs 
 
Background 
 
The proposal consists of a trial reintroduction of European beaver to Knapdale.  
This trial area lies partly within Special Area of Conservation (SAC) classified for 
oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters with vegetation of the Littoreletea 
uniflorae
  and/or of the Isoëto-Nanjuncetea  (referred to elsewhere in this 
document as oligo-mesotrophic lochs). 
 
The site's status as a classified SAC under the EC Directive 92/43/EEC on the 
conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora  (the “Habitats 
Directive”), means that the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 
1994 as amended, (the “Habitats Regulations”) apply.  The requirements are 
summarised in SE Circular 6/1995 as amended June 2000 and include, at 
paragraph 12: 
 
"The Regulations (48) require that, where an authority concludes that a 
development proposal unconnected with the nature conservation management of 
a Natura 2000 site is likely to have a significant effect on that site, it must 
undertake an appropriate assessment of the  implications for the conservation 
interests for which the area has been designated." 
 
SNH’s advice is that this proposal is likely to have a significant effect on 
the qualifying interest of the site
.  However SNH would further advise the 
Scottish Government that on the basis of the appraisal carried out to date, 
that if the proposal is undertaken strictly in accordance with the following 
conditions, then the proposal will not adversely affect the integrity of the 
site.
 
 
a)  Beaver dam construction on loch outflows to be carefully monitored and 
SNH to be informed immediately once new dams are created. If beaver 
dams are constructed on the outflows of oligo-mesotrophic lochs within 
the SAC, then the natural water levels of the lochs must be maintained, 
either through the use of beaver-specific devices which can be 
incorporated to manage water flow, or through removing the dam. The 
details to be discussed and agreed with SNH. 
 
b)  A visitor management plan must be agreed and implemented prior to the 
release of beaver and during the lifetime of the project (addressing issues 
such as signage, interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for 
self-guided and guided walks etc.). This plan and the design of associated 
facilities must be discussed and agreed with SNH. 
 
25 

 
It should be noted that Scottish Government is required to undertake an 
appropriate assessment of the implications of the proposal for the site in view of 
the site’s conservation objectives for its qualifying interest(s).  This assessment 
may be based on the above appraisal by SNH but the Scottish Government may 
wish to carry out further appraisal before completing the appropriate assessment. 
 
 
 
References 
 
Duigan, C. A., Kovach, W.L. and Palmer, M. (2006). Vegetation Communities of 
British Lakes: A Revised Classification.  JNCC 2006. 
 
Jones, K. (2006).  Ecological effects of the feeding and construction activities of 
the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) in Scotland: implications for reintroduction.  
PhD thesis, University of Stirling, UK. 
 
Murphy, K.J. Wallace G. and Drummond J. (2002). Aquatic macrophyte and 
bankside vegetation of the beaver re-introduction lochs: Knapdale, Argyll 2002. 
Draft report to SNH.  
 
Palmer, M.A., Bell, S.L. and Butterfield, I. (1992). A botanical classification of 
standing waters in Great Britain: applications for conservation and monitoring. 
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 2: 125 –  143.
 
26 

 
6.4 APPRAISAL: TAYNISH AND KNAPDALE WOODS SAC - OTTER  
 
6.4.1 Introduction 
 
A survey for otter was undertaken at Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC in 
September 2003 for the purpose of Site Condition Monitoring (SCM).  The survey 
was also a contribution to the Fourth National Otter Survey of Scotland (Strachan 
2004).  Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC was assessed to be maintaining 
favourable status for otter, with no potential threats noted. Five survey sites were 
visited, all with signs of otters including resting sites and potential breeding dens.  
In total 49 spraints were found of various ages, confirming regular use of the 
habitat.  Some of the spraints on the coast consisted entirely of crab, suggesting 
the possible presence of cubs. 
 
The SCM survey found that the rocky shores to Loch Sween and the associated 
woodland cover provide favourable habitat for otters.  However, it was judged 
unlikely that the freshwater lochs of Knapdale could maintain otters in isolation 
from prey-rich coastal areas adjacent to Loch Sween, due to their limited fish 
biomass. The freshwater lochs at Knapdale, therefore, are not thought to provide 
sufficient prey for all the needs of the local otter population. 
 
Information from Europe indicates that the presence of beaver does not appear 
to be detrimental to otter, and indeed may be beneficial. For example, the Danish 
trial reintroduction of beaver to Klosterheden Forest included an assessment of 
the effect on the resident otter population. No negative effects were observed on 
the otter population. The number of locations with evidence of otter presence has 
increased throughout the catchment following beaver reintroduction.  After the 
beavers were released at the site, otter was put forward as a Habitats Directive 
Annex II interest at the SAC at Klosterheden, and it is the view of the Danish 
Forest and Nature Agency that the otter interest can be maintained in the 
presence of beavers. 
 
European beaver is a natural component of freshwater ecosystems in Europe, 
and beaver and otter are often recorded in the same areas. This is reflected by 
the fact that there are 396 SACs within the EU (within eight Member States) 
where both beaver and otter are both identified as Annex II SAC interests.  
 
There is a likely significant effect from the proposed trial due to beaver grazing 
activities and potential altering of water levels. Issues relating to visitors to the 
beaver project may also have a significant effect, particularly in relation to 
disturbance.  
 
6.4.2 Conservation Objectives 
 
 
27 

In order to determine the effects of the proposal on site integrity, the conservation 
objectives which apply to the otter interest are examined in turn below.  
 
The conservation objectives are to ensure for the qualifying species, otter Lutra 
lutra
, that the following are maintained in the long term; 
 
Population of the species as a viable component of the site  
European beaver and otter do not compete directly for resources. Otter is a 
predatory species, beaver is herbivorous. Otter and beaver territories will 
overlap. There are occasional records of otter predation on beaver. 
 
Information from Europe indicates that the presence of beaver does not appear 
to be detrimental to otter, and indeed may be beneficial. This is believed to be 
linked to the habitats that are created where beaver has been active, such as 
ponds, localised wetland areas etc., which are also good quality habitat for otter 
and otter prey. 
 
There will therefore be no adverse impact on the population of the species as a 
viable component of the site. 
 
Distribution of the species within the site 
As described above, European information indicates that the presence of beaver 
will not affect otter distribution adversely. It is possible that an increase in wetland 
habitat may result in some localised increases in the overall area where otters 
are most likely to actively forage.  
 
In terms of the effect of increased human activity associated with the project, the 
relatively small-scale activity of project workers will generally have no effect as 
otter can tolerate low levels of disturbance. The construction of artificial lodges, 
and the erection of fencing does have the potential to affect otter distribution at a 
local scale. This will mean sites to be affected in this way will need to be 
surveyed to check for the presence of otter holts/couches, and beaver fences 
must be designed to avoid otter pathways, or constructed to allow otter to cross 
them. Artificial lodges could be removed completely at the end of the trial, or left 
in situ, since otter may eventually use abandoned lodges as holts. 
 
The integrity of the site will not be adversely affected, in relation to otter, if the 
proposed mitigation is addressed.  
 
Distribution and extent of habitats supporting the species  
Beaver activities can result in increased wetland habitat suitable for amphibians 
and some localised changes to fish populations. Amphibians may be important 
seasonal sources of prey for otter populations.  A net benefit to otter, in terms of 
provision of foraging habitat, is expected as a result of beaver activities.   
 
 
28 

Coastal otter populations require access to freshwater bathing pools in order to 
remove salt from their fur, thus maintaining thermal efficiency.  Beaver activities 
could result in increased numbers and area of freshwater pools that could 
potentially be used by otter as bathing sites. Abandoned beaver lodges and dens 
may be used by otter as holts.   
 
The issue of artificial lodge construction and fence erection is dealt with above. 
There will be no adverse impact on the distribution and extent of habitats 
supporting otter, if the proposed mitigation described in the above section is 
addressed. 
 
Structure, function and supporting processes of habitats supporting the 
species 
This is dealt with in the section above.  
 
No significant disturbance of the species
 
Beavers will not significantly disturb otter.  However, the presence of people, and 
dogs etc., can result in disturbance to otter at certain levels and under certain 
scenarios. The issue of visitor management linked to the beaver proposal is 
therefore relevant to this conservation objective. 
   
There are proposals to develop visitor facilities at the site.  This would largely be 
targeted at the provision of visitor information and interpretation within the 
existing FCS buildings at Barnluasgan (NR791909) and Barr an Daimh 
(NR796917), where the majority of visitors would be channelled through the use 
of signage and existing parking facilities.  The aim is to manage visitors at the 
existing information and interpretation ‘honeypots’, and to avoid large increase of 
visitors moving into the more sensitive areas of the SAC.  
 
There are already designated public footpaths, cycling tracks etc within the SAC 
area. For those visitors who wish to move away from the FCS facilities, provision 
will need to be put in place to allow self-guided and guided walks which are 
designed to utilise these existing public footpaths.  
 
On the basis that an overall visitor management plan is agreed and implemented 
prior to the release of beaver and throughout the project (e.g. signage, 
interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for self-guided and guided 
walks etc.), and this plan and the design of associated facilities are discussed 
with SNH, the site will not be adversely impacted.  
 
Note that this appraisal assumes relatively low levels of visitors in the early 
stages of the project, and the provision of the interpretative facilities as described 
above. If there are plans for other visitor facilities (e.g. there is a future proposal 
for a hide to be set up near a beaver lodge – but this cannot be assessed until 
the location of any proposed hide is known, which in turn cannot be identified 
until the beavers set up a lodge), a further appraisal will be required. 
 
29 

 
 
6.4.3 SNH Advice in relation to effects on otter 
 
Background 
 
The proposal consists of a trial reintroduction of European beaver to Knapdale.  
This lies partly within Special Area of Conservation (SAC) classified for otter 
Lutra lutra.  
 
The site's status as a classified SAC under the EC Directive 92/43/EEC on the 
conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora  (the “Habitats 
Directive”), means that the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 
1994 as amended, (the “Habitats Regulations”) apply.  The requirements are 
summarised in SE Circular 6/1995 as amended June 2000 and include, at 
paragraph 12: 
 
"The Regulations (48) require that, where an authority concludes that a 
development proposal unconnected with the nature conservation management of 
a Natura 2000 site is likely to have a significant effect on that site, it must 
undertake an appropriate assessment of the implications for the conservation 
interests for which the area has been designated." 
 
SNH’s advice is that this proposal is likely to have a significant effect on 
the qualifying interest of the site
.  However SNH would further advise the 
Scottish Government that on the basis of the appraisal carried out to date, 
that if the proposal is undertaken strictly in accordance with the following 
conditions, then the proposal will not adversely affect the integrity of the 
site.
 
 
a)  The methods, and the location, design and construction of structures, 
required for the ‘soft release’ of beavers (e.g. artificial lodges and fencing) 
must take into account local otter activity. The same applies to the 
erection of fencing for any other purpose during the trial (e.g. the exclusion 
of beavers from sensitive areas). This must be discussed and agreed with 
SNH. 
 
b)  A visitor management plan must be agreed and implemented prior to the 
release of beaver and during the lifetime of the project (addressing issues 
such as signage, interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for 
self-guided and guided walks etc.). This plan and the design of associated 
facilities must be discussed and agreed with SNH. 
 
It should be noted that Scottish Government is required to undertake an 
appropriate assessment of the implications of the proposal for the site in view of 
the site’s conservation objectives for its qualifying interest(s).  This assessment 
 
30 

may be based on the above appraisal by SNH but the Scottish Government may 
wish to carry out further appraisal before completing the appropriate assessment. 
 
 
 
References 
 
Strachan R. (2004). National survey of otter Lutra lutra  distribution in Scotland 
2003-04. SNH Commissioned Report, no. 211. Battleby.  
 
31 

 
6.5 APPRAISAL: TAYNISH AND KNAPDALE WOODS SAC  –  MARSH 
FRITILLARY BUTTERFLY 
 
6.5.1 Introduction 
 
A survey for marsh fritillary butterfly was undertaken at Taynish and Knapdale 
Woods SAC in August 2004 for the purpose of Site Condition Monitoring (SCM).  
The SAC was assessed to be maintaining favourable status for the butterfly. A 
total of 214 larval webs were counted (47 webs per hour of searching). The area 
of habitat judged suitable within the SAC was estimated to be approximately 
10ha, restricted to the coastal grassland area in the southern part of the Taynish 
component of the SAC.  
 
The proposal is to undertake the trial in the Knapdale component of the SAC 
only. The Taynish component of the SAC lies to the south-west of the Knapdale 
component and, at their closest point the two components are approximately 
0.5km from each other across an area of sea.  However, three larval webs were 
found near Loch Barnluasgan in autumn 2006, and three adults in summer 2007. 
These are the first records of the species within the Knapdale component of the 
SAC since the site was designated. There is also a historical 1972 record of 
marsh fritillary from NR787908, by the north-west tip of Loch Coille-Bharr.  
 
Management for marsh fritillary butterfly aims to create a mosaic of vegetation,  
mainly within the an optimal sward height of 5-15cm (sub-optimal heights of 15-
25 cm),  with some longer, tussocky vegetation which provides shelter for larval 
webs.  Devil’s bit scabious Succisa pratensis  is the larval food plant. Suitable 
habitat is presently maintained at Taynish by light cattle grazing. However 
vegetation in ungrazed areas has become too rank and Succisa pratensis  has 
been suppressed by Molinia.  It is uncertain whether suitable habitat can be 
restored in such areas in the absence of grazing. 
 
Highland cattle and Hebridean sheep have recently been introduced as seasonal 
grazers at the Loch Barnluasgan site where the butterfly has just been recorded,  
 
Marsh fritillary butterflies tend to live within metapopulations, and demonstrate 
cyclical, fluctuating population numbers linked to parasite population numbers 
and the weather. “Core” parts of the metapopulations persist even during the 
poor years, although surrounding “satellite” colonies may become temporarily 
extinct. The theory is that such satellite colony areas may be re-colonised from 
animals dispersing away from core colonies in good years, if the habitat is 
suitable.  A core part of the SAC’s metapopulation is within the south Taynish 
area. It seems likely that the newly recorded Loch Barnluasgan population is a 
satellite colony, and it remains to be seen whether it can persist within poor 
years. 
 
 
32 

European beaver and marsh fritillary butterfly are often recorded in the same 
areas on the European continent. This is reflected by the fact that there are 57 
SACs within the EU (within seven Member States) where both beaver and marsh 
fritillary butterfly are both identified as Annex II SAC interests. 
 
There is a likely significant effect from the proposed trial due to beaver grazing 
activities. Issues relating to visitors to the beaver project may also have a 
significant effect.  
 
6.5.2 Conservation Objectives 
In order to determine the effects of the proposal on site integrity, the conservation 
objectives which apply to the marsh fritillary butterfly interest are examined in 
turn below.  
 
The conservation objectives are to  ensure for the qualifying species, marsh 
fritillary butterfly  Euphydryas (Eurodryas, Hypodryas) aurinia,  that the following 
are maintained in the long term; 
 
Population of the species as a viable component of the site  
The vast proportion of the SAC’s marsh fritillary population is on the Taynish 
component of the site. However, the trial will only take place within the Knapdale 
component.  
 
Beaver activity is very much weighted towards freshwater riparian areas. The 
majority of their time, and foraging effort, is spent either within water or within 
10m of water edge. They may occasionally forage up to a few tens of metres 
away from water edge.  Most of the marsh fritillary butterfly population is more 
than 10m distance from freshwater edge, and therefore away from areas within 
which beavers would be most frequently active.  
 
Even if beavers were to be active within such areas, their grazing activity would 
have an overall beneficial effect (or at the very least, neutral), through reducing 
the encroachment of shrubby and shading species.  
 
There will therefore be no adverse impact on the population of the species as a 
viable component of the site. 
 
Distribution of the species within the site 
As described above, the Taynish component of the population will not be 
affected. The Knapdale component of the overall SAC population, newly 
discovered at Loch Barnluasgan, now forms an important part of the overall 
distribution of the species.  
 
Beaver will not be released at Loch Barnluasgan but, since the proposed release 
site of Loch Coille-Bharr is downstream, it is expected that they will reach the 
loch during the trial.  The activity of beaver is expected to be beneficial as 
 
33 

described above. There will therefore be no adverse impact on the population of 
the species as a viable component of the site. 
 
Distribution and extent of habitats supporting the species  
The presence of devil’s bit scabious Succisa pratensis  is essential, within a 
mosaic of vegetation, mainly within the optimal sward height of 5-15cm (sub-
optimal heights of 15-25 cm), with some longer, tussocky vegetation which can 
provide shelter for larval webs. The activity of beaver is expected to be beneficial 
(or at the very least, neutral), as described above. There will therefore be no 
adverse impact on the population of the species as a viable component of the 
site. 
 
Structure, function and supporting processes of habitats supporting the 
species 
This is dealt with in the section above.  
 
No significant disturbance of the species
 
Beavers will not significantly disturb marsh fritillary butterfly.   
 
In terms of visitors coming to see the beaver project, there are already 
designated public footpaths, cycling tracks etc within the SAC area. For those 
visitors who wish to move away from the FCS facilities, provision will need to be 
put in place to allow self-guided and guided walks which are designed to utilise 
these existing public footpaths.  
 
There is currently a footpath that is located around Loch Barnluasgan and runs 
close to the area within which marsh fritillary butterfly has recently been 
recorded. However, on the basis that an overall visitor management plan is 
agreed and implemented prior to the release of beaver and throughout the 
project (e.g. signage, interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for 
self-guided and guided walks etc.), and this plan and the design of associated 
facilities are discussed with SNH, the site will not be adversely impacted.  
 
Note that this appraisal assumes relatively low levels of visitors in the early 
stages of the project, and the provision of the interpretative facilities as described 
above. If there are plans for other visitor facilities (e.g. there is a future proposal 
for a hide to be set up near a beaver lodge – but this cannot be assessed until 
the location of any proposed hide is known, which in turn cannot be identified 
until the beavers set up a lodge), a further appraisal will be required. 
 
 
6.5.3 SNH Advice in relation to effects on marsh fritillary butterfly 
 
Background 
 
 
34 

The proposal consists of a trial reintroduction of European beaver to Knapdale.  
This lies partly within Special Area of Conservation (SAC) classified for marsh 
fritillary butterfly Euphydryas (Eurodryas, Hypodryas) aurinia. 
 
The site's status as a classified SAC under the EC Directive 92/43/EEC on the 
conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora  (the “Habitats 
Directive”), means that the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 
1994 as amended, (the “Habitats Regulations”) apply.  The requirements are 
summarised in SE Circular 6/1995 as amended June 2000 and include, at 
paragraph 12: 
 
"The Regulations (48) require that, where an authority concludes that a 
development proposal unconnected with the nature conservation management of 
a Natura 2000 site is likely to have a significant effect on that site, it must 
undertake an appropriate assessment of the implications for the conservation 
interests for which the area has been designated." 
 
SNH’s advice is that this proposal is likely to have a significant effect on 
the qualifying interest of the site
.  However SNH would further advise the 
Scottish Government that on the basis of the appraisal carried out to date, 
that if the proposal is undertaken strictly in accordance with the following 
conditions, then the proposal will not adversely affect the integrity of the 
site. 

 
a)  A visitor management plan must be agreed and implemented prior to the 
release of beaver and during the lifetime of the project (addressing issues 
such as signage, interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for 
self-guided and guided walks etc.). This plan and the design of associated 
facilities must be discussed and agreed with SNH. 
 
It should be noted that Scottish Government is required to undertake an 
appropriate assessment of the implications of the proposal for the site in view of 
the site’s conservation objectives for its qualifying interest(s).  This assessment 
may be based on the above appraisal by SNH but the Scottish Government may 
wish to carry out further appraisal before completing the appropriate assessment. 
 
 
 
35 

6.6 APPRAISAL: KNAPDALE LOCHS SPA – BLACK-THROATED DIVER. 
 
6.6.1 Introduction 
 
The SPA is composed of a cluster of breeding lochs of which Loch Clachaig is 
the only one within the proposed trial area.  Loch Clachaig is not one of the 
proposed release sites for the beavers, nor is it within the same catchment as the 
release sites. However it is possible that beavers may move to this loch during 
the trial period. The loch has an artificial nesting raft although the shore could 
also be used by black-throated divers. 
 
The trial will be for five years plus up to one further year to assess the results, 
meaning six breeding seasons could be affected.  There are key periods during 
the diver breeding season that could overlap with the activities of the beavers 
and/or indirectly by disturbance from project staff or others checking for beaver 
occupancy. 
 
European beaver is a natural component of freshwater ecosystems in Europe in 
which the diver may  also occur. Similarly, the black-throated diver is also 
recorded living in the same areas as the North American species of beaver. 
 
Impacts of beavers could be to raise the water level of the loch by damming 
outflow burn(s) that could flood diver nests with eggs.  Otherwise, fluctuations in 
water levels are a normal experience for divers at breeding lochs.  The loch is a 
reservoir for the Crinan Canal but British Waterways (BW) do not draw down 
water during the breeding season to avoid impacting on the divers. 
 
The key period of the year would be nesting, egg laying and incubation.  Divers 
sometimes lay replacement clutches and so the breeding season can be 
prolonged in some years.   
 
Therefore there is a likely significant effect from the proposed trial due to beavers 
altering water levels at times during the breeding season and from disturbance to 
adults and young during the breeding season. 
 
6.6.2 Conservation Objectives 
In order to determine the effects of the proposal on site integrity, the conservation 
objectives which apply to the black-throated diver interest are examined in turn 
below.  
 
The conservation objectives are to ensure for the qualifying species, black-
throated diver, that the following are maintained in the long term; 
 
Population of the species as a viable component of the site 
The site supports four pairs of breeding divers and therefore Loch Clachaig is an 
important component to ensure that the population is maintained.  Dam building 
 
36 

in the outflow burns during the breeding season could cause changes in water 
levels that might flood nests with eggs or prevent adults brooding young.  This 
would only occur if the birds nested on the shore.  However most breeding 
attempts use the artificial raft which is anchored and is able to move up and 
down with changing water levels.  Beavers could have a direct impact if dam 
building took place during the nesting period.  A dam established before breeding 
and which maintained a near constant water level would not have an impact.  An 
increase in water level is unlikely to have an adverse impact on divers through 
indirect impacts to fish prey.  Under natural conditions fluctuations occur and 
outwith the breeding season major fluctuations occur due to the usage by British 
Waterways for the Crinan Canal.  If damming were prevented during the crucial 
part of the breeding season then there would be no adverse impact from 
beavers. 
 
There is also the potential for disturbance from project staff and others checking 
the area for beaver activity during the breeding season.  There is an existing 
track up to the loch but the level of usage is low.  Any project activity during the 
breeding season should be confined to the outflow burns to check for beaver 
activity 
 
Distribution of the species within the site 
The loch is one of several breeding lochs used by breeding divers.  The birds 
would use the lochs and attempt to nest irrespective of fluctuations in water level 
and so the distribution of birds in the site would not be affected during the period 
of the trial.  However their breeding distribution in the site would be affected as 
would the overall breeding success of the site.  Therefore, as above, if damming 
was prevented during the key part of the breeding season and monitoring activity 
minimised then there would be no direct adverse impact from beavers.   
 
Distribution and extent of habitats supporting the species 
The only physical impact the beavers would have on the loch itself is by raising 
the water level but this would not affect the divers.  The loch is an oligotrophic hill 
loch and contains few macrophytes and it, or its outflow burns, are unlikely to be 
colonised by beavers during the trial period.  Therefore there will be no adverse 
impact on the distribution and extent of habitats supporting the breeding divers. 
 
Structure, function and supporting processes of habitats supporting the 
species
 
The habitats supporting the breeding divers at the loch are the loch itself, water 
level and the prey fish.  Beavers are only likely to have an impact on the water 
level and that can be dealt with as above. 
 
No significant disturbance of the species 
Already dealt with above.  
 
 
37 

 
6.6.3 SNH Advice in relation to effects on black-throated diver 
 
Background 
 
The proposal consists of a trial reintroduction of European beaver to Knapdale.  
This lies partly within Special Protection Area (SPA) classified for its breeding 
black-throated diver, Gavia arctica. 
 
The site's status as a classified SPA under the EC Directive 79/409/EEC on the 
Conservation of Wild Birds (the “Birds Directive”), means that the Conservation 
(Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 as amended, (the “Habitats 
Regulations”) apply.  The requirements are summarised in SE Circular 6/1995 as 
amended June 2000 and include, at paragraph 12: 
 
"The Regulations (48) require that, where an authority concludes that a 
development proposal unconnected with the nature conservation management of 
a Natura 2000 site is likely to have a significant effect on that site, it must 
undertake an appropriate assessment of the implications  for the conservation 
interests for which the area has been designated." 
 
SNH’s advice is that this proposal is likely to have a significant effect on 
the qualifying interest of the site
.  However SNH would further advise the 
Scottish Government that on the basis of the appraisal carried out to date, 
that if the proposal is undertaken strictly in accordance with the following 
conditions, then the proposal will not adversely affect the integrity of the 
site.
 
 
a)  Outflow burns of Loch Clachaig to be checked for beaver activity annually 
in March before the return of divers; if a dam is present consult SNH to 
determine whether it needs to be removed 
 
b)  No dam building by beavers in outflow burns of Loch Clachaig to be 
permitted during the period April to July inclusive.  Any dams being built 
during that period should be removed without disturbance to the divers.   
 
c)  If divers are breeding on Loch Clachaig in any year then checking for 
beavers must be carried out without any disturbance to the breeding birds. 
Black-throated diver is listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside 
Act 1981, as amended, therefore, prior to any survey work, relevant 
project staff must apply for a licence from SNH.  
 
It should be noted that Scottish Government is required to undertake an 
appropriate assessment of the implications of the proposal for the site in view of 
the site’s conservation objectives for its qualifying interest(s).  This assessment 
 
38 

may be based on the above appraisal by SNH but the Scottish Government may 
wish to carry out further appraisal before completing the appropriate assessment.  
 
 
 
 
39 

6.7. SUMMARY OF APPRAISALS AS TO WHETHER IT CAN BE 
ASCERTAINED THAT THE PROPOSAL WILL NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT 
THE INTEGRITY OF THE SITES 
 
6.7.1 Introduction 
 
Sections 6.2 – 6.6 provide separate appraisals for each SAC and SPA qualifying 
interest.  In each case, SNH’s advice is that this proposal is likely to have a 
significant effect on the qualifying interest of the site.  However SNH further 
advises the Scottish Government that on the basis of the appraisal carried out to 
date, that if the proposal is undertaken strictly in accordance with certain 
conditions, then the proposal will not adversely affect the integrity of the site. 
 
This final section, therefore, provides a collation of all  the relevant conditions 
(section 6.7.3 below). We recommend that the Scottish Government considers 
including these conditions as part of any licence issued to the applicants. 
 
6.7.2 Conservation Objectives 
The conservation objectives are to ensure  for the  qualifying habitats, oak 
woodland and oligo-mesotrophic lochs, that the following are maintained in the 
long term; 
 
-  Extent of the habitat on site 
-  Distribution of the habitat within site 
-  Structure and function of the habitat 
-  Processes supporting the habitat 
-  Distribution of typical species of the habitat 
-  Viability of typical species as components of the habitat 
-  No significant disturbance of typical species of the habitat 
 
To ensure for the qualifying species, otter, marsh fritillary butterfly and black-
throated diver, that the following are maintained in the long term; 
 
-  Population of the species as a viable component of the site 
-  Distribution of the species within the site 
-  Distribution and extent of habitats supporting the species 
-  Structure, function and supporting processes of habitats supporting the 
species 
-  No significant disturbance of the species 
 
 
6.7.3 SNH Advice in relation to effects on the SAC and SPA qualifying 
interests 
 
Background 
 
 
40 

The proposal consists of a trial reintroduction of European beaver to  Knapdale.  
This lies partly within Special Area of Conservation (SAC) classified for: 
 
-  Old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum in the British Isles (referred 
to elsewhere in this document as oak woodland). 
-  Oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters  with vegetation of the 
Littoreletea uniflorae  and/or of the Isoëto-Nanjuncetea  (referred to 
elsewhere in this document as oligo-mesotrophic lochs). 
-  Otter Lutra lutra
-  Marsh fritillary butterfly Euphydryas (Eurodryas, Hypodryas) aurinia. 
 
It also lies partly within Special Protection Area (SPA) classified for: 
 
-  Black-throated diver Gavia arctica. 
 
The site's status as a classified SAC under the EC Directive 92/43/EEC on the 
conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora  (the “Habitats 
Directive”), and as a classified SPA under the EC Directive 79/409/EEC on the 
Conservation of Wild Birds (the “Birds Directive”), means that the Conservation 
(Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 as amended, (the “Habitats 
Regulations”) apply.  The requirements are summarised in SE Circular 6/1995 as 
amended June 2000 and include, at paragraph 12: 
 
"The Regulations (48) require that, where an authority concludes that a 
development proposal unconnected with the nature conservation management of 
a Natura 2000 site  is likely to have a significant effect on that site, it must 
undertake an appropriate assessment of the implications for the conservation 
interests for which the area has been designated." 
 
SNH’s advice is that this proposal is likely to have a significant effect on 
the qualifying interests of the sites
.  However SNH would further advise the 
Scottish Government that on the basis of the appraisal carried out to date, 
that if the proposal is undertaken strictly in accordance with the following 
conditions, then the proposal will not adversely affect the integrity of the 
sites.
 
 
a)  Beaver dam construction on burns to be carefully monitored and SNH to 
be informed immediately once new dams are created. An assessment will 
then be made by SNH on a case by case basis and, if judged necessary, 
management of the dam will be required. 
 
b)  Beaver dam construction on loch outflows to be carefully monitored and 
SNH to be informed immediately once new dams are created. If beaver 
dams are constructed on the outflows of oligo-mesotrophic lochs within 
the SAC, then the natural water levels of the lochs must be maintained, 
either through the use of beaver-specific devices which can be 
 
41 

incorporated to manage water flow, or through removing the dam. The 
details to be discussed and agreed with SNH. 
 
c)  No dam building by beavers in outflow burns of Loch Clachaig to be 
permitted during the period April to July inclusive.  Any dams being built 
during that period should be removed without disturbance to the divers.   
 
d)  Outflow burns of loch Clachaig to be checked for beaver activity annually 
in March before the return of divers; if a dam is present consult SNH to 
determine whether it needs to be removed 
 
e)  Stands of hazel, which hold significant communities of ‘typical species’ of 
lichens, should be protected where necessary using appropriate methods 
and following discussion and agreement with SNH. 
 
f)  The methods, and the location, design and construction of structures, 
required for the ‘soft release’ of beavers (e.g. artificial lodges and fencing) 
must take into account local otter activity. The same applies to the 
erection of fencing for any other purpose during the trial (e.g. the exclusion 
of beavers from sensitive areas). This must be discussed and agreed with 
SNH. 
 
g)  If divers are breeding on Loch Clachaig in any year then checking for 
beavers must be carried out without any disturbance to the breeding birds. 
Black-throated diver is listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside 
Act 1981, as amended, therefore, prior to any survey work, relevant 
project staff must apply for a licence from SNH.  
 
h)  A visitor management plan must be agreed and implemented prior to the 
release of beaver and during the lifetime of the project (addressing issues 
such as signage, interpretive information in existing buildings, provision for 
self-guided and guided walks etc.). This plan and the design of associated 
facilities must be discussed with and agreed with SNH. 
 
It should be noted that Scottish Government is required to undertake an 
appropriate assessment of the implications of the proposal for the site in view of 
the sites’ conservation objectives for their qualifying interests.  This assessment 
may be based on the above appraisal by SNH but the Scottish Government may 
wish to carry out further appraisal before completing the appropriate assessment. 
 
42 

Trial reintroduction of European beaver to Knapdale Forest – Advice and 
Recommendations to the  Scottish Government by Scottish Natural 
Heritage. 
8 May 2008 
 
DOCUMENT 3 
 
SNH’S APPRAISAL OF THE PROPOSAL IN RELATION TO POSSIBLE 
EFFECTS ON KNAPDALE LOCHS SSSI,  KNAPDALE WOODS SSSI, 
EUROPEAN PROTECTED SPECIES, SCHEDULE 5 SPECIES, BADGER 
AND KNAPDALE NSA.  
 
 
 
CONTENTS: 
 

1.  KNAPDALE LOCHS SSSI 
 
2.  KNAPDALE WOODS SSSI 
 
3.  EUROPEAN PROTECTED SPECIES 
 
4.  SCHEDULE 5 SPECIES 
 
5.  BADGER 
 
6.  KNAPDALE NSA 
 
7.  SNH RECOMMENDATIONS 
 
 
 
1. KNAPDALE LOCHS SSSI 
 
The qualifying feature of breeding black-throated diver is covered by the 
appraisal for the Knapdale Lochs SPA (see SNH’s appraisal of the proposal in 
relation to possible effects on Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC and 
Knapdale Lochs SPA).  
 
 
2. KNAPDALE WOODS SSSI 
 
The qualifying features are; 
•  Upland oak wood 
•  Bryophyte assemblage 
•  Lichen assemblage 
•  Breeding bird assemblage  
•  Loch trophic range 
•  Dragonfly assemblage 
 

The upland oakwood, bryophyte assemblage, lichen assemblage and loch 
features are covered by the appraisal for the qualifying interests of the 
Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC. 
 
Breeding bird assemblage – The main habitat changes caused by beavers 
will be felling of trees and shrubs and the creation of wetlands/ flooded areas 
within their range The majority of woody material cut by beavers tends to be 
of small diameter (approximate range of 3-8cm) but they will fell larger trees.  
Most of their feeding and other activity takes place in water or within 10m 
(less frequently up to 100m) of  freshwater edge.  The proposed release sites 
will be on the lochs. The beavers might dam outflow or inflow burns and thus 
flood presently dry or damp areas.  This could lead to the death of any trees/ 
shrubs in that area and/ or decrease the areas of open ground within the 
forest mosaic.  Overall we do not consider this to be a significant risk to the 
breeding bird assemblage. 
 
Impacts, if any, to the breeding bird assemblage are likely to be very 
localised.  Impacts to species using large trees or trees away from water are 
likely to be negligible  There could be  some minor impacts to bird species 
using the smaller trees and scrub, on the fringes of the water.  However the 
beavers are unlikely during the trial to remove that entire habitat in their 
territories and there will be similar habitat present elsewhere in the SSSI away 
from the areas used by beavers.  The increase in open ground around the 
lochs and any increase in wetland/flooded areas might lead to an increase in 
species of those habitats.  In conclusion there is not likely to be an adverse 
impact to the overall breeding bird assemblage in the SSSI due to the 
beavers. 
 
Dragonfly assemblage  –  A number of species are recorded from the SSSI 
with the hairy dragonfly Brachytron pratense and the beautiful  demoiselle, 
Calopteryx virgo being of most interest.  The other species are well distributed 
in the mid-Argyll and Argyll areas.  B. pratense breeds on the edge of the 
bigger lochs and its larval stages utilise floating detritus.  If there was a lack of 
such material through beaver feeding activity then this might have an adverse 
impact on this species.  On the other hand, removal of encroaching scrub on 
the water’s edge with a corresponding reduction in shading might have a 
beneficial effect on the species. Any potential raising of water levels by 
beavers is unlikely to have an impact.  This species should be monitored for 
presence/absence and evidence of breeding in the trial site and the SSSI as a 
whole.   
 
C. virgo  uses small burns and rivers and the adults display in the dappled 
sunshine created by trees/ shrubs along these burns.  If the tree cover closes 
over and reduces the sunshine, the site is not used and conversely open 
burns are also not used.  The species has been recorded in the SSSI but it is 
declining due to the tree and shrub regeneration along the burns.  Therefore 
patchy removal of scrub by beavers is likely to have a beneficial effect on this 
species.  Raising of water levels by damming of burns could perhaps affect 
the species if the water became too deep for adults to lay their eggs on 
submerged weed or the weed disappeared. This species should be 

specifically monitored for presence/ absence along specific sections of 
enclosed and open burns. 
 
3. EUROPEAN PROTECTED SPECIES 
 
The following European Protected Species (as listed on Schedules 2 and 4 of 
The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994, as amended) are 
found in the trial area; 
 
•  European otter Lutra lutra 
•  Bat species  - Vespertilionidae  
•  Wildcat Felis silvestris 
 
Otter is present in the trial area both within and outwith Taynish and Knapdale 
Woods SAC (where it is an Annex II qualifying interest).  The relationship 
between otters and beavers is covered by the appraisal for the qualifying 
interests of the Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC.   
 
Bat species -  Daubenton’s bat, Natterer’s bat and pipistrelle bat species – 
are present in the SSSI and could use the trial area for feeding and roosting in 
trees and buildings. There is no evidence from elsewhere in Europe that 
beavers have had any adverse impact on bat species.  Tree roosts will be in 
larger and older trees which have the necessary cracks/rotten areas.  The 
chances of beavers felling a large tree with an occupied roost are very low, 
given most activity is close to water  where there are generally fewer larger 
trees.  Raising water levels will only create more areas for feeding.  Overall, 
beavers will have no adverse impact on the favourable conservation status of 
bat species in the area. 
 
Wildcat  has been, and probably still is, present in the trial area.  Given the 
behaviour and habitat requirements for this species it is difficult to envisage 
how beavers would have an adverse impact on wildcat.  Therefore it is judged 
that beavers will have no adverse impact on the favourable conservation 
status of wildcat. 
 
4. SCHEDULE 5 SPECIES 
 
There are several species of mammal, protected under Schedule 5 of the 
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended, present in the trial area;  pine 
marten, red squirrel and water vole. 
 
Pine  marten and red squirrel  are very unlikely to be affected by the 
presence of  beavers  The risk of felling a tree that has been occupied by 
these species is extremely low.  Therefore beaver will have no adverse impact 
on these species. 
 
Water vole habitat is protected, rather than the animal itself.  The species is 
semi-aquatic and any effects of beavers are likely to be neutral or beneficial 
by increasing habitat. However habitat is probably not a limiting feature in the 

trial area. There will not be any competition for food.  Overall there will not be 
an adverse impact to water vole. 
 
5. BADGER 
 
Badgers are present in the trial area.  They tend to have large territories in 
Argyll with more than one sett complex.  The setts tend to be on better-
drained ground, e.g. slopes and not in areas that would be susceptible to 
flooding by beaver activity.  There might be a small loss of foraging area.  
However overall there will be no adverse impact to badgers. 
 
6. KNAPDALE NSA 
 
Key characteristics of the NSA are; 
•  Grained topography from NW-SE 
•  Heavily wooded glens 
•  Freshwater and sea lochs 
•  Mosaic of habitats and enclosed landscapes 
•  Tightly grained and forested hills 
 
The western part of the trial area is within the NSA. The effects of the beavers 
will be extremely localised within their territories. The main landscape effects 
will be the local removal of trees and shrubs, that will regenerate, and creation 
of wetland/flooded areas. None of these activities will have an adverse impact 
on the integrity of the NSA.  
 
7. SNH RECOMMENDATIONS 
 
The Scottish Government  may wish to use this recommendation, if judged 
appropriate, as conditions in any licence provided to RZSS/SWT. 
 

a)  Brachytron pratense to be monitored within the SSSI  and the trial site 
as a whole. Calopteryx virgo should be monitored along specific 
sections of enclosed and open burns. This can be done through the 
monitoring programme for the project. 
 
Other recommendations relevant to these natural heritage interests are 
already addressed through SNH’s appraisal of the proposal in relation to 
possible effects on Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC and Knapdale Lochs 
SPA. 
 

Trial reintroduction of European beaver to Knapdale Forest –  Advice and 
Recommendations to the Scottish Government by Scottish Natural Heritage. 
8 May 2008. 
 
DOCUMENT 4 
 
BEAVER REINTRODUCTION. SUMMARY UPDATE ON THE EUROPEAN 
EXPERIENCE. 
 
 
CONTENTS: 
 

1.  INTRODUCTION 
 
2.  RECENT PUBLICATIONS 
 
3.  TRACKING METHODOLOGIES 
 
4.  BALTIC STATES 
 
5.  CZECH REPUBLIC 
 
6.  DENMARK 
 
7.  GERMANY - BAVARIA 
 
8.  NETHERLANDS 
 
9.  NORWAY 
 
10. NATURA SITES 
 
 
 
1. INTRODUCTION 
 
•  There are now 24 European countries that have reintroduced European 
beaver. There is therefore a wealth of experience to draw on in planning a 
Scottish reintroduction.  We are unaware of any proposals to reverse 
reintroduction decisions in any European country.  
 
•  Article 22(a) of the Habitats Directive also states that the reintroduction of 
Annex IV species (such as European beaver) should take into account the 
experience in other EU Member States.  
 
•  SNH have already undertaken extensive consultation with relevant specialists 
across Europe over the issue of beaver reintroduction. Reviews 
commissioned by SNH, drawing on the European (and, to a lesser extent, the 
North American) experience, have been published and are identified in Annex 
1. The European experience was also highlighted in the previous Knapdale 

 

licence application submitted by SNH, in particular following a specific request 
by the previous Deputy Environment Minister, Allan Wilson MSP to provide 
more information on the issue. SNH’s response to the previous Deputy 
Environment Minister was submitted in January 2005 (this has also been 
included as Annex 3 of the current RZSS/SWT licence application). Therefore 
this summary report is additional to the previous work undertaken. 
 
•  This document summarises new information on the European experience 
collated during October 2007 – April 2008. Most of this information was 
obtained through correspondence with known specialists based in several 
European countries.  
 
•  It should be noted that European specialists were asked, specifically, to 
address particular concerns that have been reported in relation to the effect of 
beavers. This short report also concentrates on those countries where beaver 
management issues have been highlighted in the past. Consequently, the 
experiences of countries where beaver management concerns are not judged 
to be such a significant issue are not highlighted to the same extent.  
 
 
2. RECENT PUBLICATIONS 
 
There have been a considerable number of publications on beaver ecology and 
beaver management since 2005. It is worth highlighting a few specific examples. 
 
2.1 University of Oxford ‘WildCru’ report on Economic Impacts of Beaver  
 
•  Campbell, R, Dutton, A, & Hughes, J (2007).  Economic Impacts of Beaver. 
Report for the Wild Britain Initiative 
 
•  This new study has just been published. It used questionnaires and economic 
tools to begin to measure the potential economic impact beavers might have 
on wildlife tourism in Britain. It was in effect a scoping study and so its 
predictive powers are limited. Its aim was merely to begin to consider the 
relative sizes of the costs and benefits. The authors accessed information 
from a range of European countries 
 
•  WildCru concluded that these benefits could be substantial. A beaver release 
site might bring (tourism multiplier included) over approximately £2 million per 
year into the local economy, whilst a pessimistic estimate could still yield 
approximately £0.75 million. Focused eco-tourism could further enhance 
these benefits, for example, just seven operators in Scotland could inject 
(tourism multiplier included) over £1 million into the local economy adjacent to 
reintroductions. Statistical analysis showed that including an enigmatic 
species, such as the beaver, in a tourism holiday increases its merit by £63 
per person.  
 
•  In comparison WildCru concluded that the potential damages that might be 
caused by beavers appear small. Negative economic impacts reported from 
previous reintroductions varied widely and were not related to area, beaver 

 

population size or the amount of time beavers had been in areas. Therefore it 
was not possible to accurately predict likely economic impacts for the UK.  
 
•  The relative sizes of the costs and benefit of a beaver reintroduction were 
estimated - benefits could be around 100 times larger than costs.  
 
2.2 Norwegian beaver management manual 
 
•  Halley, D.J. & Bevanger, K. (2005). The beaver – management for hunting, 
wildlife and environmental resource. A handbook of modern methods for 
practical management of beaver populations. NINA Report 21.61 s. In 
Norwegian.
 
 
•  Methods for managing beavers have been set out in a recent publication 
published by NINA (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research). 
 
•  Norway is not in the EU and so the Habitats Directive Annex IV provisions do 
not apply. However, many of the methods set out in the manual (many of 
them based on methods developed in other parts of Europe and in the USA 
by beaver management specialist Skip Lisle) are applicable to the wider 
European situation e.g. harvesting strategies, lethal and non lethal trapping 
techniques, methods to protect trees, and methods to protect culverts and 
regulate beaver damming activities. If there were to be any future, localised 
management issues following a Scottish beaver reintroduction , then some of 
the methodologies identified would be appropriate, for example: 
−  Live-capture methods e.g. “dazzle-netting” technique 
−  Tree protection measures e.g. to protect individual trees or areas of 
trees  
−  Crop protection methods e.g. use of standard portable electric fence, 
standard stock netting  
−  Culvert protection e.g. “beaver deceiver” designs 
−  Damming issues e.g. removal or flow-regulating pipe systems 
 
 
2.3  Briefing paper produced by the Salmon and Trout Association  
 
•  Anon (2008). Reintroducing beavers into the UK. Briefing paper published by 
the Salmon & Trout Association. 
 
•  We received a copy of this document in April 2008. It was produced with input 
from European specialists. We understand it will be placed on the Salmon and 
Trout Association’s web site (http://www.salmon-trout.org/index.asp) in the 
near future. 
 
•  The Association concludes the briefing note with the following text:  “Beavers 
have the ability to bring enormous benefits to the ecology of our 
watercourses. They have profound and far-reaching impacts on 
geomorphology, nutrients, sediment, biodiversity and could help offer flood 
protection. The reintroduction of beavers has the ability to achieve many 

 

targets under current political drivers such as WFD and the Habitats Directive. 
The practicality and benefits of introducing beavers will depend on the 
location and topography of the local area. We therefore feel that reintroduction 
should be considered on a catchment basis, and in conjunction with a 
comprehensive management plan and funding stream”. 
 
 
 
3 TRACKING METHODOLOGIES 
 
3.1 Radio –tracking 
 
•  Beaver radio tracking methodologies have been further tested and refined by 
Telemark University College, Norway, generally recognised as a centre of  
beaver ecological expertise in Europe. There are pros and cons with many of 
the techniques. Transmitter attachment remains an issue – the Telemark 
University College method involves punching a hole through the beaver tail, 
so there are animal welfare (and possibly Home Office licensing) issues that 
will need to be addressed for any Scottish study.  A recent Czech study has 
encountered high mortality in beavers that has been tentatively linked to the 
tagging. 
 
3.2 Tracking without transmitters 
 
•  In the Czech Republic the beaver monitoring mainly involves non-intrusive 
identification of winter activity patterns to help determine beaver territories.  
Beavers in the Danish trial reintroduction are monitored using field signs, and 
assessments of population size are made through regular, coordinated, visual 
counts. This does not provide detailed, continual locational information on all  
beavers but does provide a good estimate of population numbers, a regular 
assessment of territory locations and an opportunity to liaise with local land 
owners.  Local volunteers are used in the Danish monitoring, which thereby 
stimulates local interest and involvement. 
 
4 BALTIC STATES 

 
•  The flat landscapes and landscape history of the Baltic States are very 
different to those of Scotland.   
 
•  In the Soviet period in particular, many of the extensive forest bogs that used 
to be present were drained for forestry or peasant agriculture. The drains, 
roads and culverts were generally of limited quality and so vulnerable to 
beaver activities in such a flat landscape -  blocking one narrow ditch in a 
branching sequence can flood a large area.  
 
•  Finland also has flat landscapes, and a large population of beavers, but has a 
more developed infrastructure, agriculture, and forestry practices. Beavers 
there are much less problematic. 

 

 
4.1 Lithuania 
 
•  Very large population of about 100,000 animals, with about 1-2 individuals per 
square km of the country.  
 
•  Intensively exploited, with over 10,000 beaver skins sold/year.  
 
•  Beaver tourism opportunities have not been established. Generally negative 
perception of beaver to date, but this is believed to be starting to change since 
Lithuania joined the EU and the European importance of the species has 
become an issue. 
 
•  Foresters claim significant damage to timber crops from flooding, although 
beaver specialists believe it is usually pioneer birch stands which are most 
affected. 
 
•  In agriculture, beavers will dam drainage routes – however, post-Soviet land 
reform has meant many of these drainage routes are no longer used. 
 
•  There are instances of beavers damaging fish pond banks. 
 
•  Otter populations are believed to benefit from the presence of beaver, as do 
amphibian populations. Beaver lodges are important to small mammals 
sheltering from winter conditions. The abundance and diversity of the ground 
surface dwelling beetles is higher in beaver “meadows” than in control 
habitats. 
 
•  No known public health issues reported 
 
5 CZECH REPUBLIC 
 
•  Population of about 1500-2000 animals 
 
•  A national beaver management plan was drafted in 2006 for the Ministry of 
Environment, and is expected to be ratified shortly and implemented from 
2008.  
 
•  Ensuring good communication between beaver workers and land users (e.g. 
foresters) has been important, and reduces the likelihood of conflict situations 
developing.  Land owners are more likely to be content to accommodate 
beavers if they are kept informed, are aware of management techniques and 
know how to contact beaver specialists to request assistance if required.  
 
•  Beavers can graze on 5-15cm diameter saplings within 10m of water edge – 
therefore foresters are encouraged to plant saplings away from the water 
edge and/or fence them. 
 

 

•  In agricultural areas beavers may establish territories on large rivers where 
there are few/no trees – they will graze on a range of crops if planted close to 
the river edge, although there are relatively few complaints as damage tends 
to be limited. Localised flooding from beaver activities probably has more 
effect than grazing on crops. 
 
•  Electric fencing works well in excluding beavers, and beavers will avoid the 
same areas for some months after the fence is removed 
 
•  The main area of conflict appears to relate to fish ponds used in aquaculture. 
We understand there have been a small number of breaches in pond banks 
caused by beaver. Consequently reintroduction is not being recommended in 
regions where there are high numbers of ponds e.g. in the Upper Vltava and 
Luznice River areas of south Bohemia. 
 
•  Tourism opportunities have not been developed yet. 
 
•  No known  public health concerns reported 
 
6 DENMARK 
 

•  A trial reintroduction began in Denmark in 1999 at Klosterheden Forest, 
Jutland with the release of 18 animals. By autumn 2006 there were at least 86 
individuals in 25-26 territories, and they have spread from the Flynder river in 
Klosterheden to three neighbouring rivers outwith Klosterheden. 
 
•  There are now thought to be about 100 individual beavers, based on April 
2007 survey results.  
 
•  Danish Forest and Nature Agency staff have recorded an increased number 
of contacts with landowners, primarily in relation to areas of arable land 
affected by flooding from beaver dams – Agency staff have therefore removed 
some dams.  
 
•  Tourism and visitor interest remains high at Klosterheden – in 2005 there 
were 72 excursions and guided tours run by the Agency with 2,064 
participants 
 
•  There are no reported public health concerns, nor concerns with regard to 
beaver effects on Natura sites in the area 
 
•  In September 2007 the Agency applied for permission to release beavers in 
Northern Sealand. The farmers’ organisation has informed the relevant forest 
district that they have no objections to the release of beavers in their area as 
long as the beavers will be managed in the same way as at Klosterheden. A 
decision is awaited from Government. 
 
7 GERMANY - BAVARIA 
 

 

•  Bavarian beaver population is now approximately 10,000 animals in 2,500 
territories.  
 
•  The specialists charged with beaver management in Bavaria have informed 
us that they never hear of problems from two thirds of the beaver territories. In 
the remaining territories, any problems reported can usually be satisfactorily 
resolved. 
 
•  In about 10% of their casework they have to remove the beavers (e.g. 
situations involving sewage plants, beavers in villages, beavers in commercial 
fish ponds etc.). 
 
•  About 500 beavers per year are removed. Most of them are killed, as 
opportunities to use them in reintroduction projects become fewer. 
 
•  There are occasional issues with fish ponds – not just from beaver but also 
from other burrowing mammal species. Therefore, the water management 
agencies responsible for dykes use mesh guards to make them resistant to 
burrowing activities (rather than apply for permits to remove beavers).   
 
•  Agricultural damage is still generally small. A poll organised by the farmers’ 
association in 2000 reported a total annual cost arising from beaver activity of 
just a few thousand Euros (although note there was no independent 
assessment of these reports). Apparently this is about the same amount 
caused by roe deer on Bavarian roads in one hour. 
 
•  The Bavarian fishermen association published findings in 2005, that fish 
densities in areas with dead-wood created by beaver are up to 80 times 
higher than outside.  
 
•  Beavers are used in tourism, but so far on a small scale through local 
initiatives – there are plans to increase beaver tourism potential in 2008. In 
other parts of Germany, there is more extensive use of beavers in tourism e.g. 
canoe tours. 
 
•  There is no commercial or recreational hunting of beavers in Germany. 
 
•  No known public health concerns reported. 
 
8 NETHERLANDS 
 
•  The number of conflict situations remains low e.g. occasional reports of 
felling/bark stripping of fruit trees. 
 
•  Effects on dykes – Since SNH was last in touch with Dutch colleagues in 
2005, there has been one case in which a beaver dug a hole into the foot of a 
dyke. The cost of restoring this was about 10,000 Euros. 
 
•  No known public health concerns reported. 

 

 
•  No studies on economic effects, but beaver spotting opportunities are 
believed to be an added attraction to wildlife watchers who visit the 
reintroduction areas.  
 
9 NORWAY 
 
9.1 General fishery issues 
 
•  Duncan Halley, beaver specialist based at NINA, has referred to statements in 
which it is claimed that, when examining beaver-fishery interactions,  Norway 
is not a good parallel for fisheries in Scotland because the streams are in very 
steep sided valleys where the side streams are not useable by salmon 
because of the high gradient. This does appear to be the case in the west 
coast fjords of Norway (Stavanger-Kristiansund) but there are no beavers in 
these areas. However, most of the major salmon river systems (Gaula, Orkla, 
Namsen, Stjørdalsela, Numedalslaget, etc.) look similar to Scottish systems in 
general topography  - these rivers all have beavers, together with salmon and 
sea trout spawning in tributary streams. On none of these streams are beaver 
dams considered a problem for fish stocks. 
 
9.2 Norwegian study of beavers in salmonid river catchment 
 
•  Parker, H. & R∅nning, O. C. (2007). Low potential for restraint of anadromous 
salmonid reproduction by beaver Castor fiber in the Numedalslagen river 
catchment, Norway. River Research and Applications 23, 752-762. 
 
•  View is that this study has close parallels to a future Scottish situation. 
 
•  The paper surveys the whole Numesdalslaget river system in SE Norway. It is 
a typical U-shaped valley with a main stream and tributaries, colonised by 
beavers from 1957 and with a mature, apparently stable, capacity beaver 
population, not limited by hunting pressure which is locally light. It is a major 
sea trout/salmon sport fishing river (apparently not dissimilar to the more 
heavily wooded sections of the Spey or Dee). There is a large spate every 
year during snowmelt, and often one or more smaller ones in rainy periods in 
autumn.  
 
•  Of the 87 tributaries on the catchment, 51, all wooded (on average 72% with 
broadleaves, mainly birch, willow & aspen), were surveyed (the rest were 
mostly above the tree line and not suitable beaver habitat). Only 15 tributaries 
had ever had records of any beaver dams. In 2003, there were only 3 colonies 
in total on these tributaries, which had built 5 dams between them.  The main 
river was much more heavily occupied by beavers, and the population there 
much more stable - densities on the main river were ten times greater and 
there were no dams. Side stream dams were unusual and ephemeral, often 
washing out and the territories also typically being occupied rather 
ephemerally, only 1-3 years.  
 

 

•  In such catchments the bulk of the population tends to live on the main river 
and on any lakes; Duncan Halley’s (NINA) view is that this would be the case 
in Scotland too, especially as a much greater percentage of tributaries small 
enough to dam are treeless.  
 
•  Although none of the 14 landowners in the Numesdalslaget catchment derive 
any hunting revenue from beavers, 64% were unreservedly positive about 
beavers, 29% had encountered occasional conflicts but were generally 
positive,  7% (one individual) was unhappy with their presence.  
 
•  The paper also assessed the potential for dams to cause restraint on 
salmonid reproduction. It was concluded there would be little effect. 
 
10 NATURA SITES 
 
•  The European beaver is an Annex II species on the EC Habitats Directive.  An 
assessment was therefore undertaken on the number of SACs with beaver 
present in EU Member States. A further analysis was made to ascertain 
whether European beaver occurred on any SACs in Europe where the 
qualifying interests identified for Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC (which 
forms part of the proposed trial reintroduction site) also occurred.   
 
•  The four qualifying Annex I habitats and Annex II species for which Taynish 
and Knapdale Woods has been classified as an SAC are as follows: 
 
−  Lutra lutra – otter 
−  Euphydryas (Eurodryas, Hypodryas) aurinia – marsh fritillary butterfly 
−  Oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters with vegetation of the 
Littoreletea uniflorae and/or of the Isoeto-Nanjuncetea  (described as 
“lochs with aquatic vegetation” in table below) 
−  Old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum in the British Isles 
 
•  The analysis could not be undertaken with “Old sessile oak woods with Ilex 
and Blechnum in the British Isles” as this habitat only occurs in the British 
Isles. Therefore those European SACs with beavers which also had at least 
one other type of Annex I “temperate forest” feature (i.e. those with a “91-” 
Annex IV habitat coding) present were included in the analysis instead.  
 
•  The results are provided in Table 1 below. 
  

 

 






EU Member 
No. of 
No. of 
No. of 
No. of SACs 
No. of SACs 
State 
SACs 
SACs in 
SACs in 
in column B 
in column B 
where 
column B 
column B 
where 
where 
beaver 
where 
where 
“lochs with 
“temperate 
present 
otter also 
marsh 
aquatic 
forests”  
present 
fritillary 
vegetation” 
also present 
also 
also present 
present 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Austria 
18 
10 


18 
Czech 





Republic 
Germany 
411 
259 
19 
48 
349 
France 
99 
29 
20 
31 
79 
Hungary 





Lithuania* 





Netherlands 





Poland 
82 
71 


80 
Slovenia 





Slovakia 
42 
15 


35 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TOTAL 
678 
396 
57 
98 
580 
% of beaver 
 
58.4 
8.4 
14.5 
85.5 
SACs in which 
other features 
occur 
 
Table 1. Number of SACs in EU Member States where beaver is present as an Annex II interest. 
Information is also provided on the numbers of those SACs where the qualifying interests identified for 
Taynish and Knapdale Woods SAC also occur.  (Lithuania has an exception from the Annex II 
requirements for beaver – however, there are four beaver SACs listed – it is uncertain why this is so) 
  
•  Five countries have exceptions from the Annex II requirements because of 
their large beaver populations and do not have to submit SACs for which 
beaver is identified. They are Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania 
(*note from the table that Lithuania has four beaver SACs listed – it is 
uncertain why this is so, and may be a reporting error). 
 
•  A similar analysis was undertaken by SNH as part of its licence application 
package of 7 January 2002. At that time there were only 85 beaver SACs in 
Europe, distributed between four countries.  This has now increased to 678 
SACs distributed between ten countries. About 61% of the beaver SACs 
occur in Germany. 
 
•  One of the four countries with beaver SACs from the 2002 analysis was 
Belgium. However, because the beaver reintroductions there had been 
unofficial and illegal, the listing of beaver was subsequently removed from all 
Belgian SACs. There are therefore no Belgian beaver SACs in the current list. 
 
•  In addition to the ten EU Member States listed in the table, plus the four 
others with Annex II exceptions, and Belgium, there are a further three 
Member States which also have beaver present: Denmark, Luxembourg and 
10 
 

Spain. All three of these countries are still in the very early stages of beaver 
reintroduction or natural colonisation and therefore it is likely that sites of 
sufficient quality to support SAC status have yet to be established. 
 
•  Note that the vast majority of European SACs where beaver occurs (85.5%) 
have some type of Annex I “temperate forest” habitat feature present. The 
majority also have otter present (58.4%) – this is significant in that there is a 
widely acknowledged view amongst European specialists that beaver 
presence can have a beneficial effect on otter, for example through the 
creation of additional wetland habitat which can provide sources of otter prey. 
There are 98 SACs (14.5%) where beaver and the “lochs with aquatic 
vegetation” feature which occurs at Taynish and Knapdale Woods, both occur 
– however, note there may be other SACs where other types of Annex I 
standing water features also occur.  
 
11 CONCLUSIONS 
 

•  Reintroduction work and other beaver conservation action has continued 
across Europe. There has been a recent, significant increase in the number of 
SACs for which beaver is identified as an Annex II species, and a significant 
increase in the number of EU Member States with beaver SACs. 
 
•  Research and management methodologies continue to be developed, and 
there are good sources of information on best practice. There are certain 
issues where specific countries have particularly useful experiences which 
could be useful in a Scottish context e.g. the methods employed in the ‘trial’ 
and ‘full’ reintroduction in Denmark, the development of a national beaver 
management plan in the Czech Republic. 
 
•  Baltic States – These have been highlighted by others recently as examples 
of where beavers can cause significant damage.  It is clear that are many 
examples of beaver conflict (e.g. damming of drainage routes, damage to fish 
pond banks, impact on  forestry) in the Baltic States. However, it should be 
noted that the flat landscape, and landscape history, is completely different to 
that of Scotland. In Lithuania alone there are also 100,000 beavers i.e. an 
extremely high population in a relatively small country – the high numbers, 
densities and colonisation rates are different to what would happen in any 
Scottish reintroduction.  
 
•  Effects on land uses – The issue of dykes/canals has been raised again 
recently as the proposed reintroduction site at Knapdale is close to the Crinan 
Canal. There are records of beavers damaging the bank of a dyke in the 
Netherlands, and fish pond banks in several other countries, as a result of 
burrowing activities. There are also, as we were already aware, cases of 
beaver grazing and damming activities impacting on forestry and agriculture, 
usually on a localised level close to water edge. Therefore this highlights the 
importance of ensuring any beaver reintroduction is carefully designed e.g. 
planning the location of release sites, identifying ‘buffer zones’ from which 
animals should be removed,  establishing suitable monitoring programmes, 
establishing local beaver management expertise (utilising the experience and 
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methods developed by Europeans e.g. Gerhard Schwab in Bavaria), 
communicating with land owners and managers etc.  
 
•  Fisheries –The recent Norwegian study demonstrated that the majority of land 
owners in a study catchment where both beaver and salmonids occur are 
positive about the presence of beavers. Further information on the fishery 
issue was collated for the previous SNH licence application (see Annex 2). 
 
•  We continue to find no reports of public health concerns relating to European 
beaver. 
 
•  The development of beaver tourism opportunities across Europe varies. In the 
majority of cases it appears to be relatively small scale and localised 
(exceptions include Denmark). This is an area where Scotland could take a 
lead, utilising existing experience in developing wildlife watching opportunities.  
 
•  The recent University of Oxford ‘WildCru’ report concludes that, taking into 
account the possible costs associated with reintroducing beaver, a 
reintroduction could bring significant overall economic benefits. 
 
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Annex 1. SNH publications - European beaver 
 
 
SNH 
Authors 
Publication 
Title 
Contract no 
Publication 
date 
Series 
 
 
SNH REVIEWS 
Review no. 49 
J Conroy & A 
1996 
The Eurasian beaver (Cf
SNH/110A/95/IBB 
Kitchener 
in Scotland: a review of 
the literature and historical 
evidence 
Review no. 85 
Gurnell, A 
1997 
Analysis of the effects of 
RASD/026A/97/IBB/
beaver dam-building 
SRP 
activities on local 
hydrology 
Review no. 86 
Collen, P 
1997 
Review of the potential 
RASD/026/97/IBB 
impacts of re-introducing 
Eurasian beaver Cf L. on 
the ecology and 
movement of native fishes, 
and the l kely implications 
for current angling 
practices in Scotland 
Review 126 
Reynolds, P. 
2000 
European beaver and 
E006278 
woodland habitats: a 
review 
Review 127 
Kitchener, A and 
2000 
A morphometric 
BAT/97/98/19 
Lynch JM 
comparison of the skulls of 
fossil British and extant 
European beavers, Castor 
fiber
 
 
SNH RESEARCH, SURVEY AND MONITORING REPORTS 
RSM no. 93 
Macdonald, D. et 
1997 
Development of a protocol 
RASD/010/96/IBB 
al. 
for identifying beaver 
release sites  
RSM no. 94 
Webb, A. et al. 
1997 
Identification and 
RASD/010/96/IBB 
assessment of possible 
beaver sites in Scotland 
RSM no.121 
Scott Porter 
1998 
Re-introduction of 
BAT/97/98/134 
Research & 
European Beaver to 
Marketing Ltd 
Scotland: results of a 
public consultation 
RSM no.153 
Rushton, S. et al. 
2000 
Predicting the outcome of 
BAT/97/98/61 
a proposed re-introduction 
of the European beaver 
(Castor fiber) to Scotland. 
 
SNH COMMISSIONED REPORTS 
Commissioned 
Rushton, S. et al. 
2002 
Predicting the outcome of 
ROAME no. 
Report 
a proposed re-introduction 
F022AC327 
of European beaver 
Castor fiber at Knapdale, 
Argyll. 
Commissioned 
Armstrong, H.M. et 
2004 
Testing methods for 
ROAME no. 
Report no. 26 
al
monitoring beaver impacts 
F02AC327_01 
on terrestrial vegetation in  
Knapdale 
Commissioned 
Morrison, A.  
2004 
Trial re-introduction of the 
ROAME no. 
Report no. 77 
European beaver to 
F02AC327 
Knapdale: public health 
monitoring 2001-3 
 
OTHER SNH PUBLICATIONS 
 
Scottish Natural 
1998 
Re-introduction of the 
 
Heritage  
European beaver to 
Scotland: A public 
consultation. SNH, 
Battleby. 
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