Another four Eurasian beavers have been released into two brand new 50-acre enclosures on the Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield, Essex as part of a ground-breaking Natural Flood Management Scheme.
A female beaver is released at Spains Hall Estate (c) Simon Hurwitz
Spains Hall Estate, a privately owned estate covering 2,000 acres of north Essex in England, first reintroduced Eurasian beavers (which had previously been extinct in England since the early 16th century) in 2019, with the help of the Environment Agency, as a way of reducing flood risk to the village of Finchingfield, increasing drought resilience, clean water and creating year-round habitat for wildlife. Since then, the beavers have had three sets of kits and have used their natural engineering skills to transform a woodland into a thriving wetland. The dams, which the beavers have created from locally felled trees, sticks, stones and mud, have played a crucial role in reducing flood risk in the area by slowing down the river flow and diverting it through new channels and wetlands.
As a result of the success of the project, the estate has expanded the project by building two new enclosures along the Finchingfield Brook which measure 1.9km long and cover 40 hectares (100 acres) - 10 times the size of the original enclosure.
This unprecedented £350,000 scale-up is jointly supported by a unique public and private partnership which includes Anglian Water, the Environment Agency, the Anglian Eastern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), Essex County Council and Essex and Suffolk Water.
This ground-breaking project is the first of its kind in East Anglia and is part of a wider scheme to repurpose the land of the estate towards a more environmentally sustainable future that can deliver cleaner more plentiful water, help wildlife recover and boost climate resilience in the area . Over time, the beavers will help make the Finchingfield area better equipped to cope with the challenges climate change will bring, and all the while providing inspiration and experience that others can use elsewhere. This innovative partnership will support local communities by not only reducing their risk of flooding, but also by establishing a link to the natural world and creating a landscape not seen in East Anglia for over 400 years.
Archie Ruggles-Brise, Estate Manager at Spains Hall Estate said, “Thanks to the incredible support of our partners, we are thrilled to be expanding our natural flood management programme and welcoming more beavers onto the estate. This is one of the many ways we are pushing boundaries of what can be done on private land, and we hope to be an inspiration and example to others who can do replicate our work to help make farming more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”