A baby beaver has been spotted in London for the first time in hundreds of years, with some speculating it could be the first of its kind born in the capital in centuries.
The new arrival comes after Enfield Council began a city-wide beaver reintroduction programme last year in a bid to bring the animals back to the capital after a 400-year hiatus.
The initiative is part of a wider rewilding and natural flood management project in the area, after research suggested beavers can reduce the flow of floodwaters from farmlands by up to 30 per cent.
Paradise Fields, a 10 hectare (24 acre) area of woodland and wetlands in urban Greenford in the north of Ealing has undergone feasibility studies and a licence application to Natural England supported by Beaver Trust.
It is hoped the project will prevent flooding downstream around Greenford Station and surrounding streets.
The project is a collaboration between Ealing Wildlife Group, Citizen Zoo, Friends of Horsenden Hill and Ealing Council with support from Beaver Trust.
The initiative is part of a wider rewilding and natural flood management project in the area
Beavers were hunted to extinction in England but have been reintroduced to the UK since 2008 in a bid to restore natural environments
The new arrival comes after Enfield Council began a city-wide beaver reintroduction programme last year in a bid to bring the animals back to the capital after a 400-year hiatus
It was also funded by Amazon’s Right Now Climate Fund, operated in partnership with the Mayor of London and the London Wildlife Trust, and which opened for applications in October 2022 after a £750,000 commitment from Amazon.
Beavers were hunted to extinction in England but have been reintroduced to the UK since 2008 in a bid to restore natural environments.
The young animal will now be captured by Capel Manor College for a thorough health check and in order to confirm its sex.
Enfield council’s cabinet member for the environment, Rick Jewell, told the BBC: ‘The beavers’ hard work creating a natural wetland ecosystem will contribute to excellent flood defences, protecting the local area and hundreds of homes from flooding downstream to the south-east of the borough, while encouraging biodiversity.’
Capel Manor College’s animal collections manager, Meg Wilson, added: ‘We are thrilled [about] this new arrival.
‘We have seen the developments the beavers are [involved in] and the improvements they have made to the wetland area.
‘We are now focusing our efforts on collecting data, which we hope will provide further evidence about the positive effects the beavers are having on the environment.’
Beavers are found across the northern hemisphere and are among planet’s most skilled builders.
This reputation has earnt them the nickname ‘nature’s engineers’.
They fell trees by gnawing at their trunks and use the resulting sticks to construct dams to stop the movement of water in ponds, lakes, rivers and streams – creating a bodies of water with a low current.
The mammals then use sticks and mud to create a second structure – a large dome-shaped island that can reach as high as ten feet (3m) tall and up to 1,600ft (500m) long.
Each island includes two underwater entrances and a living chamber above water where the animals sleep and shelter.
Beavers often line the walls of this chamber with dry leaves and plants to insulate it during winter.
It remains unclear exactly why beavers build dams, but scientists speculate the creatures use it for warmth and shelter in the winter and as protection from predators.
Beavers are strong swimmers, and creating a reservoir of water allows the animals to play to their strengths to escape those higher in the food chain.
The biggest beaver dam ever discovered measured 2,790ft (850m) – more than twice the length of the Hoover dam.
The woodland construction, found in the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park in Northern Alberta, Canada, was so expansive it could be seen from space.
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