Study: beavers can help improve water quality

Healthy beaver kits photographed on the River Otter this week by Sylvie Meller. Ref sho beaver5

Healthy beaver kits photographed on the River Otter this week by Sylvie Meller. Ref sho beaver5 - Credit: Archant

New evidence suggests a wild beaver colony living on the River Otter could help to improve the local ecosystem.

Work undertaken by the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) examined the impact of beavers - held in captivity - and showed that the creatures are helping to remove sediments from water, therefore improving its quality.

This is an indication that England’s only wild population of beavers – allowed to remain on the River Otter after a landmark ruling - could be having a positive impact on their environment.

The DWT’s Stephen Hussey said: “The evidence we’ve gathered is showing us that beavers are having a beneficial effect helping to remove sediments from water and therefore improving water quality, and creating new habitat for a host of wildlife including amphibians.”

He explained the trust, with the University of Exeter, studied the effects of beavers on water levels and qualities in a small captive colony as part of a project funded by Westland Countryside Stewards.

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The birth of baby beavers – known as kits – on the River Otter in June was met with joy from campaigners and taken as evidence the family is ‘thriving’.

Following a campaign led by conservationists and residents, DWT was granted a license to capture the creatures and test them for disease, before re-releasing them back into the wild for monitoring as part of the Devon Beaver Project.

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