Beavers are a keystone species. So named as they are a species without which, whole eco-systems collapse. Sadly they were hunted to extinction in the seventeenth century. Beavers were once prized for their fur and their castoreum. This was used to make perfume and medicine.
However very excitingly, beavers have recently been reintroduced in 2 sites here in Sussex.
The Sussex Beaver Trial is a new partnership between Knepp Estate and the Sussex Wildlife Trust. The Trial have released a pair of beavers at Knepp who will have over 250 hectares of enclosed land to roam.
The National Trust have introduced a UK breeding pair within a secure enclosure on the small streams at Valewood. This is located at the Black Down Estate on the edge of the South Downs.
Keystone species means that a species manages the landscape around them. For instance Beavers build dams, create pools in rivers and streams that store water. This acts to slow the flow of water downstream. Beavers really do perform an extraordinary role! Isabella Tree, co-owner of the Knepp Estate has written a wonderful blog here.
Beavers will hopefully create a thriving habitat and increase the range of species and wildlife numbers. These may include water voles, wildfowl, crane flies, water beetles and dragonflies. This will support the landscape’s efforts towards climate change by storing water in dry times. This should reduce the increasing risk of flooding.
Tim recently attended Landscape Innovation Conference in Sussex. At the conference Alistair Driver of Rewilding Britain, explained the organisations vision to restore “wild nature”. As a result wildlife would be enabled to return, habitats expanded and communities enabled to flourish. Rewilding Britain works closely with the Knepp Estate in Sussex and other UK based projects.
Described as being “extraordinary hydrological engineers” beavers are an amazing addition to our Sussex wildlife. We look forward to hearing more about their adventures in Sussex.
Who knows when we’ll see some close to The Secret Campsite?
Photo used by kind permission of David Plummer / Sussex Wildlife Trust