MORE beavers are set to be released in the Forest of Dean at a second enclosure near Speech House, Forestry England (FE) has announced. 

Plans for another release of beavers - only recently reintroduced to the UK after being hunted to extinction 500 years ago - sometime next year were outlined by FE in a Facebook post last Friday (December 1).

It comes after experts from the Beaver Trust, the organisation overseeing their reintroduction nationally, identified the proposed site of the new enclosure near Spruce Ride as “a perfect place” for beavers. 

The project to reintroduce the species to the Forest has so far been “a great success”, FE says, with two adults at Greathough Brook near Lydbrook producing two kits in the spring - the first to be born there. 

Experts say beavers are an important species for habitat management and can potentially reduce the risk of flooding on natural watercourses.

Last week’s post from FE read: “We have exciting news…we are creating a new beaver enclosure in the Forest of Dean.

“To prepare the site for the beaver release next year, we have just finished clearing vegetation from the proposed fence line at the site in Perryhay on Spruce Ride.

“Beavers are an important species. They create habitats for many other plant, insect and mammal species, and their dams can change watercourses to potentially reduce flooding. They were once hunted to extinction but we are now working to reintroduce them across the country. 

“Following the successful project at Greathough Brook, experts from the Beaver Trust identified this new location, within the Blackpool Brook catchment, as a perfect place for beavers. 

“We are proud to be working with them on this project and updates on the project will be posted on here regularly.”

Beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK some 500 years ago for their meat, fur and oil, but have been reintroduced in small numbers in such places as the Forest, Devon, Cornwall and Scotland.

The Forest project, launched in July by then Environment Minister Michael Gove, was temporarily halted in February 2019, when a pair of German beavers relocated to the six-hectare enclosure six months earlier had to be removed due to disease fears.

But they were replaced by a new pair later in the year – a male and a female – this time from the River Tay area in Scotland.

Then, last summer, the female sadly passed away.

A new female was then introduced by the Beaver Trust last October.

And this spring, it was discovered that the couple had successfully produced kits.

An FE spokesperson said in June: “The baby kits were born in April and appear to be healthy and happy.

“Kits stay in their underground lodge for 1-2 months after being born, and so our team had to wait patiently to see if a new family would emerge this summer.”

They added: “Since their first meeting, (the new female) and our male have been busy working together, making new dams, maintaining the existing ones, improving their lodge, felling trees and grooming each other.”

Kate Wollen, Assistant Ecologist for Forestry England, said of the kits: “We are delighted with this news. July will mark five years since the Greathough Brook beaver project began, and what better way to celebrate than with the birth of two baby kits.

“We are also celebrating as this year we have been given a five-year licence to continue the project.

“We will be monitoring to ensure the beavers and their new kits remain healthy, and we are excited to see the increased, positive environmental impact that the larger family will have.”