Beavers to help tackle ‘dam’ nuisance of national park flooding

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Flood defence action is set to take on a revolutionary scheme in the North York Moors National Park with the use of - beavers!

They are due to be introduced into the vast picturesque park to help combat flooding by encouraging them to build their famous dams.

The plan, which goes before the park authority next week, has been put forward by the Forestry Commission, which aims to create a 16 hectare beaver release site in Cropton Forest.

Briony Fox, the park’s Acting Director of Conservation, said: “The aim is to investigate the efficacy of the use of beavers as a technique in natural flood management.”

She added the trial, which will span five years, will assess the impact of the beavers on long-term sustainability and maintenance of the “slowing the flow” wooden dam structures in the forest which help protect such areas as Pickering, from flooding.

In addition, said Ms Fox, the trial will encourage the restoration of water habitats and increase biodiversity along river corridors.

The pioneering venture is building on the “Slowing the Flow” project in the park, north of Pickering, which has been hailed as a big success and an exemplar nationally for other flood prone areas.

The trial site, at Sutherland Beck Valley in Cropton Forest, will be in an area of beech and pine trees.

“The site is considered as highly suitable for Eurasian beavers due to the combination of habitat, topography, man-made flood mitigation and a good baseline of water flow data and access,” added Ms Fox.

She said the beavers will be released in a small family group and will be transported to the forest from captivity in Europe, or other parts of Britain, the wild in Scotland under licence, or from the wild in Continental Europe.

“The activity of the beavers and the impact on habitate will be monitored using drones.

“Water quality monitoring will also take place upstream and downstream each year.”

The park authority is being asked at its meeting next Monday to give the green light to the project.