Technology Environment: 400 years later, beavers will return to London

Environment: 400 years later, beavers will return to London

The animals had disappeared from the British capital, victims of hunting, in particular because of their fur.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has decided to finance up to 45,000 euros a site which should host a breeding pair of European beavers in the fall. They will be installed in a park open to the public in West London. The idea is to re-establish the presence of this herbivore as part of one of the 22 rewilding projects in the British capital.

>> Biodiversity: the beaver is gradually returning to France

These operations aim to recreate biodiversity and bring city dwellers closer to nature. England already has hundreds of beavers living in the wild along waterways, but this project is the first to reintroduce these animals to urban areas.

The beaver is a semi-aquatic animal, it likes to create water reservoirs, by building dams. And it is said that it is an engineer species of ecosystems, because the fact of slowing down like that, the flow of rivers in certain places, has the consequence of creating wetlands, with sometimes some flooding on the banks : which can promote the development of vegetation or certain species such as frogs or insects. In addition, the dams play a role of filtration. Studies done on the Colorado River in the western United States show that beaver dams act as filters by retaining sediments, sometimes even certain pollutants, which allows for healthier water downstream.

The beaver has already returned to France

The first reintroduction operations in France date back to the 1960s. And European beavers can be found in central and eastern France, including in certain cities such as Lyon, Orléans, Tours or Metz, explains Paul Hurel, of the French Office for Biodiversity.

According to the latest estimates from the national monitoring network, the beaver has already recolonized 17,000 km of rivers here. It is a protected species, with which it is easy to coexist, especially since a couple only gives birth to two or three young per year. It is very different from the nutria, which is an invasive alien species, it reproduces faster and causes more damage, which means that the nutria can be hunted.

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