Sunday, 6 January 2019

Derek Gow


On 24th July 2018 two European Beavers aged three years were released in the Forest of Dean into a 16 acre, purpose built, enclosure around the Greathough (pronounced "great huff") Brook, Lydbrook.
Reintroductions have become a popular way of redressing the balance where human activity and interference has displaced species to the point of extinction, locally or nationally.
The Red Kite became extinct in England, through persecution, in 1871 and in Scotland in 1879. In 1989 the RSPB, along with governing bodies, began a programme of reintroductions in England and Scotland rising by 1026% in the 19 years from 1995 to the last national survey in 2014. This is an excellent example of a successful reintroduction.
Goshawks, made extinct throughout the UK were largely reintroduced by falconers ("austringers" to use the technical term for "hawkers") who, when importing one Goshawk for training would import a second for release.
Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean, however, are much more controversial. "Reintroduced" via illegal dumping, numbers increased from a small herd to about 1700 individuals. Still popular with visitors, photographers and local wildlife enthusiasts, Wild Boar do a lot of damage to private property and the wider forest and many local people would like to see them removed.
Beavers are referred to as a "keystone species" because their impact on the environment is positive and creates habitats beneficial to other species. The coppicing activity of Beavers benefits plants, birds and insects and damming helps waterborne insects, water birds and amphibians, Otters, Water Voles, Water Shrews, Dragonflies all benefit and the insects benefit fish and, once emerged, birds.
Following the release of the pair from Bavaria, Derek Gow, the man tasked with bringing them to Lydbrook tweeted; "Beavers out. Elysium. Food in plenty. Over time their dam networks will open the forest to light. Life will return in super abundance. The flows savage in the past will abate and be held. Natures sponges will reform. A good time." Derek also included the attached photo in his tweet.
A major lever for persuasion to acceptance is the flooding caused to Upper Lydbrook where the combined flow of the Greathough and the Lyd sometimes overspills onto roads, threatening homes and businesses. Clearly, the advantages to the environment and wildlife habitats should persuade us all to accept them.
Next year a phased release of Pine Martens into the Forest of Dean is due to begin.

We shall be visiting the enclosure next weekend. See our events click more events for info.