Beavers are a step closer to returning to the Cairngorms National Park after an absence of more than 400 years.
A formal public engagement process will get under way next week and once completed the Cairngorms National Park Authority – which is leading on the reintroduction project – will submit a licence application to return the lost species to the park.
The park authority is working closely with a range of partners and land managers on a carefully considered proposal to translocate beavers from the Tay catchment to the upper Spey catchment.
The release sites are at Rothiemurchus, Wildland Cairngorms and RSPB Scotland Insh Marshes.
Beavers are considered “nature’s engineers” with an incredible ability to rework, restore and re-naturalise the landscape, helping combat climate change and boost biodiversity.
Following a series of informal “Beaver Blethers” back in March, the park authority and partners are back out on the road to speak with residents, farmers, business-owners, fishery interests and other groups as part of the formal six week public engagement process, which runs from August 14 to September 25.
The information gathered at this second series of “Beaver Blethers”, will help inform the licence application to NatureScot.
Dr Sarah Henshall, head of conservation at the Cairngorms National Park Authority said: “Working with land managers, we aim to release beaver families in three locations in the Upper Spey catchment.
“In collaboration with land managers and communities we then plan further releases within the catchment over the next few years to ensure there are enough for a viable population. Our beavers will be coming from the Tay Catchment and will be trapped under licence by The Beaver Trust.
“They will go through health checks in a zoo – and if we get the go ahead from NatureScot – they will then be transported to their release sites in the Cairngorms National Park soon after.
“We need to apply for a licence from NatureScot as beavers are a European Protected Species. To be successful in this application we need to show that there is enough suitable habitat for a self-sustaining population of beavers to live in the park; that there are land managers willing to have the first beavers in the Park released on their land; that we have a management plan identifying any issues that beavers may cause and outlining solutions to minimise or avoid any unacceptable impacts to protected or valuable habitats; and that there is a majority of supportive public opinion.
“Over the next six weeks we’ll be hosting lots of opportunities for local communities to share their views in meetings, events, and an online survey.”
Three local land managers have come forward to be involved in the project.