Essex beavers to aid flood prevention
The Eurasian beaver has been reintroduced into Essex after an absence of 400 years.
A mixed pair has been released into an enclosure on a historic country estate, consisting of four hectares of woodland on the Spains Hall estate in Finchingfield, near Braintree. The aim is to help reduce the risk of flooding in the village by building dams along the brook flowing through the enclosure.
Sourced from an established fenced colony in Devon, the beavers are expected to get to work quickly, but the results of their labour may take a few months to be felt downstream.
Alongside the beavers will be a man-made natural flood management scheme on a second strand of Finchingfield Brook, which features a ‘leaky dam’ approach. This involves securing tree branches or trunks across a watercourse, which helps slow the flow after heavy rain. The scheme should also create wetland that will release water in drier periods.
Eventually, using data collected by Environment Agency equipment and sensors stationed along the watercourses, leaky dams and the beaver enclosure, scientists will be able to establish if this approach is more successful than more conventional flood prevention methods.
Enabled by funding from the Anglian Eastern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, the project is being led by Archie Ruggles-Brise, whose family has lived on the estate for 250 years. It has also been supported by the Environment Agency, Essex Wildlife Trust and Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust and local councillors.