Welsh Beaver Project

Beaver swimming

The Wildlife Trusts in Wales have been "busy as a beaver" working to bring back to Wales these amazing creatures after an absence of over 500 years. The "eager beavers" at the Welsh Beaver Project, led by Wildlife Trusts, have recently submitted an application to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to allow us to introduce them into a small catchment in Carmarthenshire.

The Eurasian beavers, Castor fiber, are native to Wales and were once found throughout the country. However, they were hunted to extinction around the Middle Ages for their meat and fur.

Beavers are vegetarian and like nothing more than munching on aquatic plants, herbs and shrubs, leaves, branches and bark of trees. They are also industrious animals and are often referred to as ‘ecosystem engineers’ or ‘keystone species’ because they can create and manage wetlands and restore habitats which in turn increase biodiversity. Beavers can also benefit humans by reducing flooding, preventing soil erosion and improving water quality within streams and rivers – known as ‘ecosystem services’.

We are working with a partner organisation, the Bevis Trust based in Carmarthenshire. The licence application is now being assessed by NRW and once this has been completed, it will be followed by a public consultation led by NRW. We are currently waiting for further information on the public consultation, but once it is up and running we will need your support to ensure we can return beavers to Wales! Details of the public consultation will be posted on the Wildlife Trust Wales website and Welsh Beaver Project website website in due course.

We hope that one day soon beavers will be back in the wild in Wales where we can all enjoy them.

Amazing Facts About the Beaver

  • Beavers use swimming goggles too! They possess a set of transparent eyelids (nictitating membranes) which enable them to see under water. They also have nose and ear valves, which shut to keep out water while submerged. Perhaps most useful is that their lips close behind their oversized front teeth, allowing the beaver to transport building materials and food without drowning.
  • Beavers are romantics at heart (or at least they're monogamous).
  • The beaver is mainly nocturnal and aquatic, and they can remain underwater for up to 15 minutes at a time.
  • Glandular oil (castoreum) from the base of its tail is rich in salicylic acid, a basic ingredient of modern aspirin drugs, and was widely used in medieval times as a treatment for headaches.
  • There are two species of beaver; the North American beaver and the European beaver. Although very similar in appearance and behaviour, the two species are not genetically compatible
  • Beavers' large teeth never stop growing. The beavers constant gnawing on wood keeps their teeth from growing too long.
  • Beavers use their broad, stiff tails like rudders to steer under water, and for balance while sitting on land. They also slap their tails against the surface of the water to warn of danger and as a warning to keep away.

For further information on the project, please visit the Welsh Beaver Project website and you can also support the project via our donation page. If you have any questions please send them to beaver.afanc@wildlifetrustswales.org.