A GROUP of lucky volunteers were recently given the chance to step behind the fence at Forestry England’s Greathough Brook beaver enclosure.

The volunteers who help to monitor the enclosure near Lydbrook were allowed a look behind the scenes accompanied by Forestry England (FE) staff as "a thank you for all their hard work".

Photos posted online by FE show that the beavers have been busy fulfilling their intended duties of building dams to slow the flow of water at the brook.

A post on FE’s Forest of Dean Facebook page said: "Our volunteers are a very important part of the beaver project, the fence must be checked every day, year round.

"This is done by a volunteer who walks the fence line to make sure it is safe and secure and report any damages.

"As a thank you for all their hard work, some of the beaver project volunteers got the chance to go behind the fence.

"Inside the enclosure is wild and full of life, pools of water, an impressive dam and evidence of freshly felled trees, willow regeneration and insects galore.

"The beavers really have been busy asâ?¦ wellâ?¦ beavers!

"We have lots of opportunities for volunteering, whether you can spare a day a week, a couple of hours a month or a few days each year."

The project to reintroduce beavers in the Forest began in 2018 as part of a wider plan to return the animal to the wild in the UK.

The species was hunted to extinction in the UK 500 years ago for their meat, fur and oil, but has been reintroduced in small numbers in such places as the Forest, Devon, Cornwall and Scotland.

One of the reasons behind their reintroduction is to provide a low-cost solution to flooding, such as that which occurs in Lydbrook at times of torrential rain, by slowing the flow of water through dam building.

The Forest project was temporarily halted in February 2019, when a pair of German beavers that had been relocated to the six-hectare enclosure seven months earlier had to be removed when one was found to have a parasitic disease.

But they were replaced by a new male and female pair from the River Tay area in Scotland later that year, and FE reported in early 2020 that the pair had settled in well.

To find out more about volunteering opportunities with Forestry England, go to www.forestryengland.uk/the-forest-dean/volunteering-the-forest-dean.