With today being World Rewilding Day (20 March 2023), The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has highlighted his support for London’s natural biodiversity which includes a project that will see beavers coming back to Ealing.
For the first time in over 400 years, beavers are coming back to Ealing in a project that will see the reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver licenced for Paradise Fields in Greenford.
The Mayor said: “We are now facing dual climate and ecological emergencies worldwide, which further threaten our ability to survive on our planet. Despite the harm inflicted on the natural world, we have the power to make amends, and I am committed to ensuring that London is at the vanguard of efforts to reverse the trends of declining biodiversity and the destruction of nature.”
He added: “Rewilding allows nature to take the lead and is an exciting way to create healthier ecosystems and allow humans and wildlife to live together more harmoniously. We’re cleaning up our city, re-establishing lost species and reconnecting people and nature as we build a greener, fairer city for all Londoners.”
The beaver project is a collaboration between Ealing Wildlife Group, Citizen Zoo, Friends of Horsenden Hill and Ealing Council with support from Beaver Trust and will allow residents, landowners and other stakeholders to learn how to live alongside the beavers in a controlled enclosed trial at first.
It is being led by Dr Sean McCormack, vet and chair of Ealing Wildlife Group who is also the licence applicant.
According to the project, there are already beavers living wild at Medway in Kent and Oxfordshire and indications suggest that Ealing could see beavers back in the autumn. After the beavers settle in the local area, the site will be open to the public to experience first hand a beaver wetland.
Dr McCormack said: “Many people assume beavers to be a wilderness species, but in fact we’ve just forgotten how closely w used to live alongside them. And we’ve forgotten the rich tapestry of life they can bring as engineers of healthy ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems clean our water and air, reduce flooding and drought, capture carbon to tackle climate change and boost biodiversity.”
Dr McCormack added: “We’re so excited that our site, Paradise Fields, has been considered suitable and granted this licence to study how Beavers interact with an urban river
catchment but crucially also with urban communities being able to experience them on their doorstep. We’re itching to get started and to get the community further involved too.”
A fundraising appeal to support the project’s set up and running costs has also started and is inviting residents to contribute to it. For more information, click here.
Experts say having beavers back in Ealing will be good for the environment. Among the benefits of a local beaver populsation is they help reduce flood risk by slowing water
flow in times of high rainfall and mitigate drought by holding more water on the land.
Elliot Newton, co-founder of Citizen Zoo welcomed the beaver licence approval: “We are hoping to challenge perceptions, and demonstrate how London too, can embrace these ecosystem engineers as we strive for a healthier, wilder future in which our Capital can become a leader in urban rewilding. Which will greatly benefit not only wildlife populations but local communities too.”
Head of Restoration at Beaver Trust, Dr Roisín Campbell-Palmer added: “Now that beavers are back in Britain, learning to coexist with them is fundamental to the species’ successful restoration. We look forward to continuing to support the team to make the most of this superbly located site.”
Welcoming the beavers, Central Greenford Councillor Dr Aysha Raza said: “Greenford residents are delighted to be welcoming beavers to our area. This project gives us the unique opportunity to see rewilding in action up close. I’m most excited about the improvements to the local flooding problems which impact many people. Hopefully we can prove that there are effective natural solutions to problems that would otherwise need invasive and expensive interventions, and we hope to show other urban areas the way forward.”