Beavers are a keystone species that have been missing from the Scottish landscape for over 400 years. We were recently surveying on the River Tay for a client and came across evidence of beaver chopping away at some willow trees close to the bank not far from Perth. Beavers were given the green light for reintroduction in 2016, following a five year trial in Argyll. Although the beavers active on the River Tay, as well as other rivers around Scotland, are from escapees and introduced animals unconnected to the trial in Argyll. The Eurasian beaver became extinct in Scotland in the 16th Century hunted for meat, their pelts and the medicinal properties of a secretion from an anal gland. The secretion is used as a tincture in perfumes (including Chanel) and as a food additive; as a substitute for vanilla and in Swedish Schnapps.
They can make positive contributions to biodiversity by modifying the riparian habitat coppicing bankside vegetation and creating pools and ponds This can benefit many other species including otters, water vole, birds, invertebrates and fish. There is some evidence that the can attenuate run off by holding back silt which may regulate flooding (see https://www.scottishbeavers.org.uk/) .