Ealing Wildlife Group: Beaver Project

Community • Ealing

Ealing Wildlife Group is reintroducing beavers to the capital to study their impacts on the urban landscape, including their impacts on water filtration and flooding prevention, as well as ecosystem and habitat creation.

  • Stock photo: Eurasian beaver

Ealing Wildlife Group's story

Ealing Wildlife Group is a community of wildlife enthusiasts set up in 2016, dedicated to protecting, encouraging & celebrating local biodiversity in Ealing and surrounding areas.

One of their projects is the Ealing Beaver Project, which aims to reintroduce beavers to the capital in a controlled enclosure trial, to study their impacts on the urban landscape, including their impacts on water filtration and flooding prevention, as well as ecosystem and habitat creation.

Beavers are often referred to as 'ecosystems engineers', because they are perfect architects of healthy and biodiverse ecosystems. They build dams and dig canals, creating wetlands and deadwood which provide ideal habitats for insects, amphibians, and even water voles. They also slow the flow of waterways, preventing flooding and filtering water, improving water quality.

Historically, beavers shaped Britain's waterways, creating complex river systems brimming with invertebrates, amphibians, birds and fish, but 400 years ago they were hunted to extinction.

Eurasian Beavers have been reintroduced in enclosed and open-release sites across the country in England, Wales and Scotland. Already, through their own efforts or with a bit of "help", beavers can now be found in Medway, Kent and Oxfordshire. It is almost an inevitability that soon they will arrive in Greater London via 'natural recolonisation', and so before that happens, it is going to be important for all stakeholders, including landowners, local councils, residents, and conservation organisations, to learn to live alongside beavers.

The Ealing Beaver Project is a collaboration between Ealing Wildlife Group (EWG), Ealing Council, Citizen Zoo, Friends of Horsenden Hill and is supported by experts at the Beaver Trust. Ealing Council has agreed to provide ranger support and partial financial backing from Section 106 developer funding, and the project has also received funding from the Mayor of London as part of his Rewild London 2 Fund. This support will drive the project forward through physical preparation of the site, baseline ecological surveys and establishing monitoring activity and community engagement. A licence has been granted by Natural England to reintroduce Eurasian beavers to Ealing, at Paradise Fields in North Greenford.

Paradise Fields was identified following a series of visits as a highly suitable habitat for beaver reintroduction and a flagship London rewilding project. Most of the 10-hectare site will be enclosed, uniquely allowing visitors to enter an immersive experience in a rewilding beaver landscape. It is important that an enclosed trial occurs before wider free-living beaver reintroduction is considered or before natural recolonisation occurs over the coming years.

On the 17th of March 2022, Forty Hall Farm in Enfield released a pair of beavers into a woodland enclosure under license in a joint project by Capel Manor College and Enfield Council, the first beavers to live in London in 400 years.

Useful learnings from Ealing Wildlife Group

Try to build a community of like minded people in your area, social media is great for this.
Seek out existing environmental and community groups and get involved, share ideas. Cross pollination and collaboration is key.
Try to engage with your local Council and especially the Parks team and rangers, in a positive way. They get a lot of criticism and you'll get better results if you offer your energy and enthusiasm to help rather than complain.

Ealing Wildlife Group's metrics

Learn to manage beavers in the urban context including monitoring flood mitigation effects in an urban catchment
Habitat and biodiversity improvements on site, with a view to later reintroduce water voles, now considered locally extinct
Public engagement of local urban communities with nature, biodiversity and nature-based solutions/ecosystem services

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Community, 10 to 49 people

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Updated Feb, 2024

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