Beavers to be introduced in Chichester district

Beaver swimming in river, photo: David Chapman
Beaver swimming in river, photo: David Chapman

Beavers are due to be re-introduced to the area following a fundraiser by the National Trust.

The organisation has launched an appeal to raise £50,000 to improve wildlife habitats in Haslemere.

Group photo (left to right), David Elliott National Trust Lead Ranger, Nigel Quick Chair of the Black Down and Hindhead Supporters, Derek Gow Consultant Ecologist

Group photo (left to right), David Elliott National Trust Lead Ranger, Nigel Quick Chair of the Black Down and Hindhead Supporters, Derek Gow Consultant Ecologist

With the funds, the group will be able to re-introduce beavers to a fenced enclosure at Valewood nature reserve.

The reintroduction at Valewood has been granted a license by Natural England and will take place in Spring 2020.

Nigel Quick, chairman of the Black Down and Hindhead Supporters Committee said: “This is great news. Wilder Valewood is the most exciting project that we have agreed to actively fund in decades.”

Naturalist and author Richard Williamson said: "I can't see anything wrong with introducing them. It's near a stream with lots of different ponds — it's a very attractive area. They aren't going to be pests to other people or pets or anything.

"They mind their own business and keep the ponds clear and help to maintain the structure of the ponds. It will be interesting to see and it will encourage people to visit the country side.

"I think it's an excellent idea. Some people objected to them in the north because they caused flooding but down there you want those little lakes."

This year a small herd of Longhorn cattle, were also reintroduced to Valewood using funds provided by the Black Down and Hindhead Supporters of the National Trust.

A talk at the group’s AGM featured Derek Gow, a beaver re-introduction specialist who breeds the rare native species.

The project is also supported by a grant of £68,866 from Viridor Credits Environmental Company through the Landfill Communities Fund Scheme.

Bob Daniels, spokesperson for the Black Down and Hindhead Supporters said: “The National Trust countryside team at Black Down have exciting plans to restore natural habitats in Haslemere.

“The project is a great example of the things we can do locally to positively influence species decline, which is sadly an increasingly prominent feature of global headlines.”

Beavers are believed to have been hunted to extinction in the 16th century for their pelts and castoreum — a pair of scent sacs which could be used in perfumes and medicines.

Some populations have been reintroduced in Devon, Kent and Scotland.

Richard said there are six places in the UK named after beavers. Beverpotes in Nottinghamshire, Beverly in Yorkshire, Beversbrook in Wiltshire, Beverstone in Gloucestershire, Barbourne in Worcester and Beverly Brook which runs through Richmond Park.