The first licensed reintroduction project for beavers in the UK has won “Britain’s Best Conservation Project” in the 2013 BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.
The Scottish beaver trial was up against two other conservation projects in the category: a basking shark tagging project and a campaign against the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are having a detrimental effect on bee populations.
Launched in 2009, the beaver trial is a scientific study monitoring the reintroduction of a group of wild Eurasian beavers into the Knapdale Forest in the Heart of Argyll. Consisting of four beaver families, it aims to assess the effects beaver reintroduction has on the environment, as well as tourism and the community.
The five-year study is the result of a partnership between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust and is now in its final monitoring year. Fieldwork is scheduled to wrap up in May, when a holding period will take place while the Scottish Government reviews the data collected.
The trial’s project manager Simon Jones said: “We are honoured to accept the award for Britain’s Best Conservation Project in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards, especially in the final year of the project.
“The team’s devotion to the trial, including raising awareness of the ecological benefits of beavers, has been tireless over the past five years.
“As the first licensed mammal reintroduction project to take place in the UK, the trial is hopefully paving the way for potential reintroduction projects in the future. Research conducted by our field team is also being used to advise international programmes on areas including beaver health and management.”
Now in its third year, the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards are a celebration of the British countryside and its people – from great heritage attractions and favourite countryside writers, to the best conservation projects and the finest market towns. BBC Countryfile Magazine asked experts in each field to draw up shortlists of candidates in each category and its readers and members of the public then voted for the awards.