Crowdfunder to protect Scotland’s beavers exceeds target

A short diversion from this blog’s theme, but an important one.

Press release from Trees for Life (6th January 2021)

Trees for Life crowdfunder to protect Scotland’s beavers raises £60,000

A crowdfunding appeal by Trees for Life to help protect Scotland’s endangered wild beavers has raised almost £60,000 – setting the scene for a court challenge to the Scottish Government’s beaver policy, which the charity says is causing needless loss of beavers’ lives.

[Photo by Scotland The Big Picture]

Trees for Life and legally specialist rewilding charity The Lifescape Project say the Government’s nature agency NatureScot is breaking the law by failing to make killing of beavers a last resort when the animals have unwanted impacts on agricultural land.

A month-long crowdfunder set out to raise at least £40,000 to cover the costs of a current judicial review of the Government’s approach. The legal challenge aims to ensure a safer future for beavers, which can be key allies in tackling the nature and climate emergencies.

The crowdfunder closed on 5 January, exceeding its target thanks to 1,500 supporters. Additional high-profile support came from television presenter and naturalist Chris Packham, whose campaigning conservation group Wild Justice donated £5,000. 

The support for our campaign to protect Scotland’s biodiversity-boosting, flood-preventing beavers has been amazing, and every donation is hugely appreciated. Public opinion clearly supports a more nature-friendly, climate-friendly and farmer-friendly approach to beaver management, said Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive.

Beavers’ dams create nature-rich and flood-reducing wetlands. When beavers sometimes also have unwanted local impacts on agricultural land, laws governing protected species require any intervention to have the least possible impact on their conservation. 

After the Scottish Government declared beavers a legally protected species in May 2019, those wanting to kill beavers or remove their dams or lodges must obtain a licence from NatureScot. Dozens of such licences have now been issued.

Because the Government says beavers cannot be relocated to new areas within Scotland – even though NatureScot has identified over 100,000 hectares of suitable habitat – the options for Tayside farmers whose crops are damaged by beavers are currently significantly limited.

A judicial review ruling in Trees for Life’s favour would ensure lethal control is a genuine last resort. Conservationists and others will be able to identify – with proper community engagement – suitable sites around Scotland to which beavers could be moved and be safe and welcome. 

This could also help prevent damage to farmland, and ensure farmers are less often put in the position of having to shoot popular and endangered animals.

Trees for Life is dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands. See


Many thanks to the RPUK blog readers who supported this crowdfunder.

6 thoughts on “Crowdfunder to protect Scotland’s beavers exceeds target”

  1. There’s a bigger overlap with the ‘lawful’ killing of beavers and the illegal persecution of raptors than might be thought. If beaver were allowed to live up to their potential to reduce the flood risk for homes, businesses and good quality farmland downstream then there wouldn’t be many grouse moors in the country without at least targeted contour and riparian tree planting. Add beaver then the resulting dams not only would help keep families dry they’d create pretty bloody good firebreaks, even the SGA would struggle to deny water isn’t flammable. This of course would seriously compromise DGS, but that’s just tough shit as a hobby in no way should compromise other peoples’ lives in such a fundamental (or in fact any) way. I wonder how much grouse moor owners are beginning to realise this and how much they might be one of the drivers behind the scenes for the Scottish parliament taking such a ludicrous, beaver killing stance. Hardly a month goes by in England without a new flood reducing trial involving beavers being announced and more and more are where they’d be most effective up in the hills. They’re getting pretty close to the grouse moors. The penny must be dropping for their owners. Fingers crossed a proposed Scotgov petition that would make maximising flood prevention part of the requirements needed to get a licence to shoot grouse is being reviewed right now and will be available soon. Well done RPUK for highlighting the crowdfunder.

  2. Why can’t beavers be relocated? If landowners have suitable sites and would welcome them where no crop damage would be likely where is the sense in stopping this being used? We only have a small acreage and a burn rather than a river but we would welcome them if the situation was regarded as suitable. This Government rule should be challenged !

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