Earlier this Autumn, just as the buzz of the busy survey season was beginning to ease off, excitement levels rose again when two of our ecologists stumbled across evidence of beavers in wet woodland near the River Stour, in Kent.
On checking previous records for the site on the outskirts of Canterbury for the Preliminary Ecological Appraisal, we found that six sightings of beavers within the site itself had been recorded in 2018.
Furthermore, during the site visit, one of our surveyors spotted a large beaver track through the scrub leading from the river and into a pond. His keen eye also picked out a small pile of duckweed deposited on the path, indicating that a beaver had moved out of one of the ponds and into the river recently.
The site, on the banks of the River Stour, features a series of former gravel pits that have since filled with water, forming a network of ponds and lakes surrounded by dense wet willow woodland, all fenced off from the public – the perfect sanctuary for beavers!
Can we expect to see more of our beloved beavers?
Beavers were hunted to extinction in this country 400 years ago, but a series of controlled reintroductions in recent years are seeing the comeback of this keystone species. The beaver has earned this title from the undeniably pivotal role it plays in the functioning of the ecological community; its presence and activity can define the structure and composition of the ecosystem itself.
Beavers are often referred to as nature’s engineers. Indeed, their ability to modify the flow of rivers with the dams they create can lead to the formation of vast wetland habitats, benefiting a whole host of species.
Natural England have in fact just announced their plans to harness this species’ unique abilities and release a small number of Eurasian beavers in England next spring with the hope that their dams will help reduce floodwater peeks and improve biodiversity.
The site visit in Kent was the first time since The Ecology Consultancy was founded 20 years ago that our ecologists have come across evidence of beavers on site, and we expect it won’t be the last…
Get ahead with planning – Book in your Preliminary Ecological Appraisal
A Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) is critical in the early stages of the planning and design of your project and is often the first point of contact ecologists will have with your site.
During a PEA, our ecologists will assess the likelihood and scale of ecological impacts from your project as well as determine any need for further specialist ecological surveys which are crucial to the adequate assessment of the ecological impacts.
Indeed, with the colder weather now setting in, and many of our protected species going into hibernation, most species-specific surveys are now on hold until the spring. It is important to have your site assessed and be aware of the need for any surveys to be carried out in the spring/summer, so that you can plan for the survey season ahead and avoid any costly delays to your schedule.
Our Preliminary Ecological Appraisal service is designed to provide you with high quality ecological surveys and reports for when time may be critical.
Get in touch with our ecologists in your local office to discuss your site and book in your PEA.
You can read more about the Natural England Beaver release plans here.