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A beaver
Photograph: Shutterestock

Why bringing back beavers could help prevent drought

Hosepipe bans and reducing water supply are two ways to combat drought. But these rodents might be the real answer

Written by
Ellie Muir

After a blistering heatwave – and with another on the way – our climate is getting hotter and our ground drier. That means the UK’s water supplies are at risk, and now the government is considering emergency measures as it prepares for a drought, including preventing leaks, a hosepipe ban and advising that people reduce personal water waste. But there’s also one rodent that might be the answer to our problems.

Beavers were once extinct in the UK, but are now being reintroduced across the country and might just provide the water-conservation skills we need to help combat drought. The rodents build dams, which in turn create wetlands and slow the flow of rivers, storing water in the landscape. According to The Guardian, one farmer in Cornwall, Chris Jones, has been protected from the worst effects of the recent drought due to the beavers on his land.

‘What the beavers have done is they’ve built a whole series of dams and these all store water,’ Jones said. ‘They help to keep the area of land adjacent to the stream damp and drought-resistant.’

‘The beavers have reconnected the stream to the flood plain, so you have all these little streams crossing the land where there was no water before. Now, ponds are building up behind the dams, building up water reserves in the land.’

A spokesperson for the Beaver Trust added: ‘We urge the government to prioritise water security and to expedite the reintroduction of beavers into river catchments as part of a low-cost, restorative, solution-based approach to mitigate against the devastating impacts of drought and wildfire.’

Beavers build dams by biting and scratching bark, branches and leaves off trees. Deep reserves of water are created on one side, establishing the right conditions for a lodge which acts as protection for beaver families.

As it stands, there have been trials of enclosed beaver releases in England, and families of free-roaming beavers live in wild in Scotland and some parts of southern England, but they have not yet been fully reintroduced across the UK. But as beaver dams double as an invaluable tool for filtering, conserving and cleaning water supplies, environmental groups are calling for the reintroduction of the species into the wild.

So, given their habitats might just be to our benefit, it remains for us to say just one thing: bring back the beavers!

ICYMI: a ten-day 'super heatwave' is on the way this week.

Plus: here are the top ten trending seaside destinations in the UK for 2022.

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