Farming News - Beavers given legal protection as a native species by government

Beavers given legal protection as a native species by government

22 Jul 2022

Beavers have been given legal protection as a native species in England, making it an offence to kill, harm or disturb them without a licence. From October, it will also be illegal to damage where they breed

The species were hunted into extinction 400 years ago but have reappeared owing to illegal releases around the country.  Beavers are known as natures engineers as they create wetlands – an important habitat for many plants and animals – when they build dams.

The National Farmers' Union said a clear management plan was needed to protect farmland before any law change as they are concerned about the effect beavers can have on farmland - particularly flooding.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “It is unacceptable that the government has pushed through this legislation at the last minute before summer recess with absolutely no detail and vague platitudes that there will be a management plan published in ‘due course’.

“With the clear impact beavers can have on agricultural land, a clear management plan following consultation with farmers was the least the government should have created before introducing this legislation.

“Farmers are continuing to work around the clock to produce the nation’s food and they will be rightly asking why the government is introducing this last-minute legislation in the same week that it couldn’t find parliamentary time to scrutinise the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement. It is imperative that Defra now brings plans forward to manage beavers and their potential impact as soon as possible."

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, said: "This is an significant moment for beaver recovery, as we see a return of this species to its natural places in England.

"We are working closely with landowners, environmentalists and other stakeholders to develop practical guidance to ensure these wonderful animals are able to thrive in suitable habitats alongside people across England."