Farm union concerned about Dyfi beaver projects

MEMBERS of a farmers’ union have raised concerns about plans to reintroduce beavers to the wild along the Dyfi River.

Concern over proposals from the North Wales Wildlife Trust to reintroduce beavers to the area brought together a strong contingent of NFU Cymru members at a recent meeting.

In early 2022 a proposal was announced by the North Wales Wildlife Trust to release a wild population of beavers onto the River Dyfi.

The Welsh Beaver Project has been studying the possibility of bringing wild beavers back to Wales since 2005.

Any further release is subject to the grant of a separate new license by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and to date no applications have been received by NRW.

NFU Cymru generally opposes species reintroduction programs because resources can be used much more efficiently to enhance existing biodiversity.

NFU Cymru members who farm in the area have expressed concern over the trust’s plans and feel that beavers are not an appropriate species for the area.

Beavers have been extinct in Wales for over 400 years; the landscapes and their management changed considerably at this time.

Dafydd Parry-Jones, NFU Cymru Montgomeryshire County Vice-Chairman and resident of the Dyfi Valley, said: ‘We are very concerned about plans to reintroduce a wild population of beavers to the Dyfi area and that that’s why we organized a meeting. for Dolgelynen Farm members to voice their concerns.

“The meeting was well attended, and it was a privilege to see so many people present to discuss the potential impacts this could have on our rural community and demonstrate the strength of sentiment.”

It is proposed that beavers help encourage biodiversity in the area and provide a form of natural flood management. However, NFU Cymru members in the area are already part of programs implementing successful natural flood management strategies that would include structures such as leaky dams. Beaver dams are not as effective at managing water flow and can often be swept away by high floods which could have serious effects downstream.

Mr Parry-Jones added: “Why do we have to rely on wild animals, whose habits are at best unpredictable, to perform similar roles already effectively performed. Their work is likely to be in the wrong place and in the case of their dams, not as permeable.

“We know this area; we actually live and breathe it, and we don’t want the delicate balance of its ecosystem upset by a species we haven’t lived with for centuries. As guardians of the territory, we work tirelessly to improve our practices in favor of biodiversity in order to preserve its future.

NFU Cymru believes that the potential for beavers to cause problems in the landscape for farmland and agricultural businesses, existing habitat and biodiversity is considerable. There are no natural predators for beavers. Therefore, such reintroductions of Eurasian beavers are not suitable for Wales.

There are other projects in the UK where beavers have been reintroduced, including Scotland and Devon. There are many reports detailing the impact of beavers on their environment and it is clear that their “benefits” come at a price.

Mr Parry Jones added: “There are species in Wales that are in decline, species that have survived here in harmony with us for many years. Our goal should be to protect them, not to introduce an animal whose benefits are not assured. Let’s prioritize our efforts on our native species to ensure their future.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have been encouraged to follow the science and any approach to intervening with local habitats and biodiversity must be done with validated scientific evidence. Funding from the Welsh Government has been granted to develop this work – is this the right way to support rural communities and encourage their future? »

NFU Cymru strongly encourages members to attend workshops run by the North Wales Wildlife Trust and raise any concerns. Any members who may be affected are also encouraged to contact their local NFU Cymru office to express their views.

About Keneth T. Graves

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