Sir, – Your article 'Beaver damage threatens Tayside Farmland' in your issue of April 28, provided an unbalanced assessment of the beaver presence in Scotland.

The farmers struggling with collapsed beaver burrows along a riverbank deserve both financial support and sympathy in dealing with a problem not of their making. However, it is wrong to ignore the significant environmental benefits that beavers bring, or imply that the practical problems of farming alongside beavers are insurmountable.

Indeed, appropriate management of beavers has always been a key qualification of the Scottish Government’s proposal to allow beavers to remain in Tayside, which was agreed with the NFUS.

Beavers’ ability to create wetland has been widely recognised south of the Border, with Michael Gove recently supporting their re-introduction in England and serious proposals are now being made by academics to subsidise beaver presence on farmland in a post-CAP scenario.

There is also a different attitude in continental Europe. Having been restored to 24 countries of their former range, beavers now inhabit intensively farmed areas across Europe and are largely seen by farmers as legitimate neighbours. Mitigation, such as exclusion fencing to keep livestock out of riparian edges, is recognised as manageable and desirable.

What are these benefits? Scientific studies have shown beaver dams to be effective at trapping agricultural run-off, including nitrates and phosphates, and improving water quality. By trapping sediment they also reduce soil erosion.

In a context where many tonnes of valuable soil is lost annually in the UK, this is critical. Beaver wetlands greatly increase the water holding capacity of land – reducing downstream flood risk by slowing water flow in times of spate and providing a water resource in times of drought, while providing wildlife habitat for many species including pollinators.

By coppicing trees, beavers increase the stability of banks long term and beaver generated soils have been found to enhance carbon sequestration.

No one ever said adjusting to the presence of beavers was going to be straightforward. But perhaps it’s time to take a less one-sided view and learn to live alongside beavers without hype or hysteria?

Lobbying for post-Brexit funding to set aside land for beavers, rather than railing against the animals, could lead to a far better outcome for farmers, the wider environment and the general public.

Sam Gandy

for the Scottish

Wild Beaver Group.