Trees for Life are launching a Crowdfunder to challenge the Scottish Government’s nature agency NatureScot in court demanding that killing beavers be the ‘genuine last resort’ in managing their numbers.
They are arguing the case for to prioritise moving beavers across to other parts of Scotland before issuing a license to kill beavers who are damaging rural landscapes.
Trees for Life’s Conservation Manager, Alan McDonnell, said: “This is an opportunity to collaborate, rather than to conflict and I think if we can change that mind set, we can find win win solutions for more people, particularly for farmers in Tayside.”
He explained: “Beavers are superb ecosystem architects, with their dams creating nature-rich wetlands, but sometimes have unwanted local impacts on agricultural land which need managing.
“Where this happens, laws governing protected species require any intervention to have the least possible impact on their conservation.
“NatureScot has identified over 100,000 hectares of suitable habitat for beavers. Yet the Scottish Government says beavers cannot be relocated to new areas within Scotland – significantly limiting the options for Tayside farmers whose crops are damaged by beavers.
“The Scottish Government’s policy is making a mockery of beavers’ protected species status. By respecting the law and allowing relocation of beavers to suitable areas of Scotland, the Government could achieve a big nature-friendly, climate-friendly, farmer-friendly win,”
However, NatureScot reassure that their approach to the ecological considerations behind issuing licenses is ‘robust’ and ‘lawful’.
Robbie Kernahan, NatureScot’s Director of Sustainable Growth, said: “We have been working for 25 years to bring back beavers to Scotland because of the benefits they provide to people and nature by improving water quality and flow and creating new habitats that support many other species, so this latest development is quite frustrating.
“In certain circumstances, beavers can cause problems. In those specific situations where beavers pose a risk of serious damage to farmland or where they occasionally cause a public health and safety concern, we issue licences accordingly.
“We are confident that our approach to managing these impacts is robust and lawful and licences are only used if we are satisfied that there is no other solution.”
Although Trees for Life’s Chief Executive, Steve Micklewright, said: “This is a matter of law, not of opinion. There’s a strong legal case that NatureScot is breaking the law by failing to make killing of beavers a last resort when they have unwanted impacts on agricultural land.
“It’s clear from our correspondence with NatureScot that it is unwilling to change approach and properly consider moving beavers as an alternative to killing.
“So we’re having to launch a judicial review to secure the future of Scotland’s habitat-creating, biodiversity-boosting, flood-preventing beavers, and prevent more needless loss of life.”
To find out more information about the work NatureScot does to manage beaver populations, follow this link: https://www.nature.scot/professional-advice/protected-areas-and-species/protected-species/protected-species-z-guide/protected-species-beavers
To find out more about Trees for Life’s management of beaver populations and more about their Crowdfunder, find the following link: https://treesforlife.org.uk/