SUPPORT FOR the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland has come from the National Trust for Scotland, which has said the country is 'poorer' without them.

The Trust, which has more than 300,000 members, said bringing back the Eurasian beaver would see a key animal restored to its natural ecosystem. The beaver was hunted to extinction in Scotland 400 years ago.

The Trust's statement comes in advance of Scottish Natural Heritage submitting their report on recent official - and unofficial - beaver reintroduction trials to the Scottish Government.

Lindsay MacKinlay, the Trust's nature adviser said: "Beavers are a native species to Scotland and the trust belives that they should be resident here.

"We would like to see existing beavers in Argyll and Tayside managed to permit their natural expansion and hope that other licensed reintroductions in appropriate areas will augment the existing populations."

Scotland is one of the few countries in Europe which does not have a wild beaver population. Many nations, including the Netherlands, have reintroduced them in recent years.

The Scottish Government will decide later this year whether to do so, after receiving the results of a number of studies, including the five-year Scottish beaver trial in Knapdale, Argyll.

Mr MacKinlay said: "People might think that the beaver disappeared from Scotland a long time ago and that it therefore no longer has a place here. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. The beaver is a crucial element in our countryside which plays an important role in the conservation of other wildlife.

"However, let's not pretend that beavers are always good neighbours. Their dam building activities and burrows can cause problems," he added. "That's why we're asking for a national mitigation plan that addresses the legitimate concerns of landowners, salmon fishery managers and other interest groups."