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Scientific Research in the Caledonian Forest
Reintroduction of the European Beaver (Castor fiber) into Scotland

In 2000, Guy Wigham, a student at Leeds University, carried out research on the possible reintroduction of the European beaver to Scotland, and investigated the suitability of Glen Affric as a potential site for this.

His study concluded with the following statement: "Glen Affric meets many of the requirements for a release site of a reintroduced population as the important food and habitat requirements are present and it is part of a large river system with many tributary rivers and connecting streams. ... it is not feasable to determine the final level of suitability although it remains a potential release site."

Here is the abstract of Guy's work, from his dissertation document:


The European beaver (Castor fiber) was once widely distributed across Britain and Europe until it became extinct in the UK during the 16th Century while surviving in mainland Europe as small isolated populations. Following their demise, many European countries began reintroduction and augmentation programmes to increase numbers and prevent total extinction of Castor fiber. The first programmes began during the 1920s and now reintroductions into Scotland have been proposed.

The adaptations, ecology and biology of the beaver make it second to humans in its ability to manipulate and engineer its surrounding environment to suit its needs, these are studied and effect how they interact with humans. By reintroducing a new population to an area does not guarantee success and many attempts have failed to establish viable populations in other European countries. Reasons for these failures are looked at and identified which in turn provides a basis for future reintroduction programmmes; a suitable site and population size are the essentials required for long term success and continuation of a population.

The means of assessing suitable release sites are determined using a points system allowing comparisons of various sites. A case study is presented of a potential release site in Scotland and its assessment analysed, means of follow up work and monitoring of populations are then outlined.

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Last updated: Wednesday, 25-Aug-2010 16:58:40 CEST

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