The York Ecology Team have recently been privileged to return to the Forestry Commission’s beaver enclosure in North Yorkshire to see how the beavers have continued to shape their habitat in 2020.
In April 2019, two adult beavers from Scotland were released into a large, secure enclosure in Cropton Forest as part of a 5-year trial to investigate their interaction with artificial flood control measures. The team first visited the project in November 2019, seven months after the beavers’ reintroduction; the habitat was already undergoing visible changes in vegetation and topography, with clear field signs of beaver activity, included coppiced trees and natural dams along with the related changes in hydrology including pond creation, new canal systems and the beginnings of wetland areas around the river.
The socially-distanced (!) return visit in November 2020 allowed the team to observe how the beavers have continued to shape their habitat. The beaver family now includes the two adults, as well as two kits born in 2019 and one kit in 2020 – the beavers have recently set to work building an impressive extension to a dam within the enclosure
Georgina Palmer, Principal Ecologist said: “it was a great opportunity to see how the beavers are influencing the habitat within and beyond the enclosure – the length and depth of the dam was particularly impressive and it’s striking to see the extent of knock-on impacts above and below the structure. It was great to learn about this species and the project, and of course to get the Ecology team together in person again”.
FPCR York are hoping for a return visit in 2021 to check in on the extended beaver family and observe the continuing changes these natural flood engineers are making on their immediate landscape.
Further information can be found at Forestry England