A day of beavers and cirl buntings

IMG_2024 (768x1024)Not only was the long awaited beaver license approved today to allow theĀ  re-introduction of beavers into the River Otter on a trial basis, but we have has some very positive news about the occurrence on Estate land of one of the SW's rarest birds, the cirl bunting.

Details on the beaver have been covered elsewhere on the website (see the Homepage!), suffice to say here that there was significant media attention yesterday on the announcement by Natural England that the trial had been approved. The project partnership will include the Estate and the Conservation Trust as a number of the beavers occur in the lower Otter. Much of the day was spent talking to journalists. This was enjoyable, and for the most part, the reporting appeared balanced.

Our position is that we are supportive of the trial and recognise the value that beavers can bring to our rivers. However, we do have concerns about how the beavers will be managed in the long term. Consistent lessons learnt from across Europe where many beaver reintroduction programmes have been undertaken, is that they do require management, and intervention will inevitably be required. To pretend this is not the case would be unrealistic. Management can mean at one extreme simply the removal of beaver debris from a culvert or ditch to prevent flooding. The other (and hopefully rare) extreme, of course, is culling if numbers are proving troublesome. It is certainly our view that we should get the management and legislative frameworks in place now to allow those who might be adversely impacted by the presence of beavers in the future, to address issues of concern in a pragmatic fashion. I think all those involved in the trial want the same thing: a landscape and wildlife enhanced by the presence of beavers, but with our infrastructure, rural businesses and properties protected from harm. The trial will help us to understand how we best achieve that vision.

Cirl Bunting - 3So it was from the River Otter that I went to the Jurassic coast to meet with our Farm Manager and representatives of the RSPB to discuss how we can consolidate the success of the rare cirl bunting on the land we own. Confined to the SW and not known to have bred east of the River Exe in recent decades, the appearance of a decent sized population of cirl buntings is extremely exciting. Through the enhancement of hedges and through sensitive farming practcies that increase good quality habitat for this species, we hope that we can ensure an increase in numbers and an expanding population in forthcoming years. Keep an eye on future blogs later in the year on this subject.

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