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Beaver at Greathough

Beavers at Greathough Brook

A pair of Eurasian beavers were introduced into Greathough Brook in the Forest of Dean in July 2018. Watch the moment they were released and find out about the project. 


Beaver at Greathough The Eurasian Beaver

The Eurasian Beaver is a large, semi-aquatic native mammal that was once widespread throughout Britain. They were hunted to extinction by the beginning of the 16th Century for their meat, fur and scent glands. 


Why have they been introduced at Greathough Brook?

Records show that Greathough Brook was once home to thriving populations of water vole, glow worms and pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies. These species depend on light, warm condintions that can no longer be found in the area due to the shading from trees.

The beavers will begin to cut down trees almost immediately to access food and to provide material to build dams and lodges. Their dams will create pools and wetlands which will overtime increase water storage; slow water flows and improve water quality by filtering sediments and pollutants. In turn this will provide habitats for the species that once thrived in this area.

Can you spot the beavers?

The best time to spot the beavers at Greathough Brook is during the spring and summer months during early mornings or evenings when they emerge from their lodges. Visitors can also visit the site to see what habitat changes the beaver have made on the forest.

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Our Eurasian beaver facts...

  • They create habitat's which are vital for a range of mammal, insect, reptile, fish and bird species which once thrived in the Forest of Dean
  • Build dams when the watercourse is shallow to give them a suitable living habitat
  • Have a positive impact on fish populations
  • Live in lodges constructed from harvested timber and mud
  • They can grow as large as a Labrador but with shorter legs
  • Create wetlands which benefit water retention, storage and water quality

Eurasian beaver myth busters. They don't...

  • Eat fish - they are 100% vegetarian!
  • Have a signigicant impact of forestry and agriculture
  • Carry wildlife diseases which aren't present in the UK or are commonly transmissible to humans or domesticated livestock
  • Burrow in flood defence structures where flood banks are more than 30 meters back from watercourses

Project information

The beavers are enclosed within 6 hectares of woodland within a specially designed fence that will prevent the beavers escaping into the wider landscape of the Forest of Dean.  The stream culverts, a structure that allows water to flow under a trail or similar obstruction from one side to another, are also grilled to ensure the beavers cannot move upstream or downstream into the wider catchment.  The fence will also be boar proof to prevent boar accessing the beaver habitat.

The project has funding for three years during which time the beavers and their impacts on the Greathough Brook will be carefully monitored throughout. The future of the project will depend on the outcome of the monitoring and the availability of funding. 

Beavers are currently living wild at various sites in the UK, including under licence at Knapdale in Scotland and on the River Otter in Devon. Here in the Forest of Dean, however, the beavers will be enclosed so that we can monitor the changes that take place to the biodiversity, habitats and water quality and flow rates. The data we gather will provide evidence to determine their impacts of beavers on the wider landscape.

Find out more about the Devon project.

Last updated: 28th July 2018

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.