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Nottinghamshire one step closer to bringing beavers back to county

Plans to reintroduce beavers in Nottinghamshire – bringing them back to the county for the first time in 400 years – is one step closer after Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust received its Beaver Reintroduction Licence.

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Researchers and practitioners in species recovery in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences have provided expertise to help underpin the project.

This has involved  conducting pre-release surveys of food and existing species at the release site and providing advice to ensure the planned release follows the conservation reintroduction guidelines.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has expressed its delight at receiving the official licence for the planned enclosed beaver reintroduction at the spectacular Idle Valley Nature Reserve off North Road, Retford.

The licence, issued by Natural England, means that the Trust is on course to bring beavers back to Nottinghamshire this September.

Dr Samantha Bremner-Harrison, Species Recovery Unit Lead at Nottingham Trent University and member of the IUCN Conservation Translocation Specialist Group, said: “Approval of the licence to return beavers to Nottinghamshire highlights a major step forward in nature recovery in the County and indicates the commitment of all the groups involved.

“Returning these key ecosystem engineers to prime habitat at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve will allow us to learn more about their contribution to creating and maintaining diverse habitats that support a wide range of species.”

The Trust’s Head of Nature Recovery (North) Janice Bradley said: “We’re delighted that our licence application has been approved, as this means we can continue with our preparations on site, including ongoing survey work to record the flora and fauna currently present in the new beaver zone and the construction of the fencing that is required to keep the beavers safe.”

This year has been billed as a record year for beaver reintroductions in the UK, with the East Midlands leading the charge. Both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Wildlife Trusts are making final preparations to reintroduce beavers to their respective counties for the first time in over 400 years, thanks to funding from Severn Trent Water’s Big Nature Boost and public donations.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust plans to reintroduce two beaver pairs and any dependent kits into a huge (55ha) enclosure at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve, to harness the power of natural processes to transform what is already one of the best inland nature-watching places in the region.

A PhD student, funded by a Nottingham Trent University PhD Studentship, will monitor the movements of the beaver families for three years following their release, investigating how they use the restored gravel-pit habitat. Staff within the Species Recovery Unit will monitor the Nottinghamshire beaver population long-term to ensure they remain genetically healthy, providing recommendations for future management decisions.    

Over the border, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is preparing to release two beaver families and their kits into a 40 hectare enclosed area of Willington Wetlands reserve in the Trent valley.

Now that both Wildlife Trusts have received their licence approvals the beavers could arrive as early as September.

Janice added: “Securing permission to release beavers is a complex process and the fact that our licence has been approved relatively quickly is a testament to hard work of all the team involved and highlights that we’ve been able to provide Natural England with evidence that we have a great location for the beavers, that our enclosure will be secure and that we have robust systems in place to monitor their impact on other wildlife.

“We have worked closely with our colleagues in Natural England and the Environment Agency to make sure that this is the right place for beavers, and all our work has been underpinned by specialist re-introduction expertise from the Derek Gow Consultancy and the Species Recovery Unit at Nottingham Trent University.”

Both sites are being made ready for beavers to be rehomed from sites in Scotland and are part of a record number of releases planned by Wildlife Trusts this year - 20 years after bringing the first ever beavers back to Britain. Around 20 beavers will be released this year including to a project in Wales.

The Wildlife Trusts have been at the forefront of beaver reintroduction and projects in Britain ever since Kent Wildlife Trust released the first pair into a fenced area of fenland in 2001, followed by the Scottish Beaver Trial in 2009.

Severn Trent Water’s support for the beaver reintroductions is linked to the company’s ambitious target to increase biodiversity across an area of 5,000ha within the region by 2027. This will deliver 1% of the Nature Recovery Network’s 500,000ha, within the Government’s 25 year Environment Plan.

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    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.

    NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.

    The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With over 37,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University injects £1.6bn into the UK economy. It has been the largest recruiter of UK undergraduates in each of the last four years. With an international student population of more than 6,000 and an NTU community representing around 160 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019.

    The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, a registered charity, manages dozens of nature reserves throughout the county. It advises local authorities, community groups and landowners on nature conservation issues, and makes a major input into decision-making on planning matters and other issues.

    Idle Valley Nature Reserve covers 375 hectares alongside the west bank of the River Idle. A former working sand and gravel quarry, the majority of the reserve is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because it supports an exceptional diversity of breeding, wintering and passage birds.

    The Trust is part of a nation-wide network of local Trusts which work to protect wildlife in town and country - The Wildlife Trusts. The Wildlife Trusts now boast almost 800,000 members. For more information, please see our website:

Published on 24 June 2021
  • Subject area: Animal, equine and wildlife
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences