Beavers born in Essex for first time in 400 years

Helena Horton
·2-min read
A picture of a beaver kit - Environment Agency
A picture of a beaver kit - Environment Agency

Beavers have been born in Essex for the first time in 400 years after the animals were reintroduced in the area to help with flood prevention.

A pioneering project by the Spains Hall Estate, the Environment Agency and the Essex Wildlife Trust meant a pair of beavers were released in an enclosure in the grounds of the manor house last year.

The animals have now had their first pair of kits, bringing hopes that a thriving population of beavers could once again be sustained in Essex.

Once, the animals were widespread across Britain, but by the 16th century they were wiped out after being hunted for their pelts, and an oil they produce. Now, environmental campaigners are fighting to reintroduce them to the country's rivers in order to create biodiverse habitats and reduce flooding.

The Spains Hall beavers were first introduced to help manage flooding in nearby Finchingfield, and have been building dams to reduce flood risk to the village and creating wetlands which release water during drier periods.

The Environment Agency’s Matt Butcher said: “This is a fantastic project for the Environment Agency to be part of. “It has been really exciting to see how the beavers have engineered their environment by building dams, slowing the flow and holding up water to reduce the risk of flooding downstream.

“The complex habitat they have created along the way is amazing and improving all the time, which makes this a real win-win for people and wildlife.

“The news of the beaver kits has just taken things to another level, and it will be incredible to see what the new members of the family will do to in the coming months and years.”

Spains Hall Estate manager Archie Ruggles-Brise said he was excited to see how much more protection the new additions to the beaver family will bring.

He said: “We are delighted that our beavers have settled in so well that they have bred successfully.

“If they are anything like their parents the two kits will become phenomenal dam builders, and we will be watching closely as they expand the wetland and provide even more protection against flood and drought, and provide homes for loads of other wildlife.”