The English and Welsh say: very stubborn.
The reintroduction of extinct species across rural Britain will have to overcome “enormous” challenges to be successful, a major study of the UK’s largest “rewilding” project has found.
Rewilding is an increasingly popular strand of conservation. There are ambitious plans to revive biodiversity by reintroducing native species, including wolves, beavers and lynx. But new research for the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) has detailed the range of challenges facing the restoration of ancient habitats and returning of lost species to the wild.
According to the study, which will be presented to the RGS on Wednesday at its yearly conference, a number of “on-ground” challenges, including the unpredictability of wild animals, are likely to make rewilding difficult.
The research, by Dr Kim Ward from Plymouth University and Dr Jonathan Prior from Cardiff University, primarily looked at the recent Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale, which began in May 2009 with the release of three beaver families. The animals went on to breed successfully, making them the first wild beavers in Britain in 400 years.
While the scheme was been hailed as an “outstanding success” by conservationists, the study found it created “conflicts with other land users”, amid local concerns over “disruption to rural business”.
“Disruption to rural business is a chief concern of the most vocal critics of the Scottish Beaver Trial. They argue that the beavers’ potential to build dams along waterways, and fell trees, changes the dynamics of the wider landscape in ways that cannot be predicted and will negatively impact the rural economy,” said Dr Prior.
First of all, why isn’t a Scottish university reporting to us how impossible it will be to release beavers in Scotland? Why do we need professors from 600 miles away to analyze the situation? And second of all isn’t this really a paper about how impervious the Scots are to new ideas? Shouldn’t it be done by social psychologists specializing in attitude change? There was once a time when rural land use didn’t include vegetarians or dental floss too. And it was hard to change those ideas. But they adapted.
I’m thinking they’ll re-adjust to beavers back in their midst, too just fine.
I’m not sure what other people do on their day OFF but I worked on a new brochure about beaver management. I’m thinking of something that we can distribute at events to address the conflicts and outline solutions and also emphasize the good things beavers do. This will need tweaking I’m sure, but what do you think so far? There must be some way to virtually show this as a trifold brochure, but I haven’t found it yet. Try to imagine CONFLICTS as the front cover, techniques on the inside and WHY on the back. I’m trying to sell to the nonbelievers.