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Introducing Beavers at Helman Tor | St. Eval & Cornwall Wildlife Trust

We are delighted to announce the launch of an exciting three-year partnership with Cornwall Wildlife Trust, beginning an incredible journey that we hope will lead to introducing beavers at Helman Tor nature reserve

Creating an environment that enriches people's lives and treading softly on the earth is the St. Eval vision which began over 28 years ago and these values remain at our very heart.

We will be donating £150,000 over the next three years to support the team at Cornwall Wildlife Trust as they undertake socio-economic assessments and collect baseline data with an end goal of introducing beavers to Helman Tor nature reserve.

We’ve supported Cornwall Wildlife Trust for many years and feel extremely lucky to be able to go one step further with this incredible project; helping to shape nature and build for the future.

Image credit Adrian Langdon
Image credit: Adrian Langdon

What are beavers?

Beavers are Britain’s largest rodent, the group of mammals that includes rats, mice, and voles. They live in freshwater habitats, like rivers and streams, and prefer areas surrounded by wetland plants, trees and woodland. Known as nature's architects, their dam-building work has such a positive influence on habitats around them.

What benefits do beavers bring?

The Cornwall Beaver Project at Woodland Valley Farm shows that beavers bring huge benefits to wildlife. After five years of the project:

  • Brown trout have doubled in size in the new beaver ponds.
  • Three additional species of mammal, including the water shrew, have been recorded there.
  • Ten new bird species, including the water rail, green sandpiper and willow tit.
  • 11 species of bat and 17 species of damselfly and dragonfly have now been recorded on the site.

What is the aim of the 'Introducing Beavers at Helman Tor' project?

With our £150,000 support, the project aims to appoint Cornwall's first ever Beaver Officer who will work towards achieving the first ever licensed wild release of beavers into Cornwall’s landscape since they were hunted to extinction over 400 years ago.

The process of achieving a release licence will be rigorous, ensuring that any wild beaver reintroduction is conducted responsibly, in a suitable location, and with the greatest positive impact for wildlife and local communities. The Beaver Officer’s role will be to consult local people, collect baseline data, and pull together all the information needed for a licence application.

Find out more.

“I am delighted that we are able to support Cornwall Wildlife Trust in such a meaningful way over the next three years with this incredible project. Taking care of the natural world around us has long been a core value at St. Eval; helping Cornwall Wildlife Trust bring beavers back to Cornwall is a great way to make a positive impact on biodiversity and the environment locally. 

“We’ve worked closely with Cornwall Wildlife Trust for many years to support them in their mission to create a Cornwall where nature thrives and are so delighted to take our partnership to the next level with this incredible project. The whole team at St. Eval are also so excited to be able to be involved in a voluntary capacity and can’t wait to get their boots muddy!” 

Ian Greaves, CEO, St. Eval

Helman Tor, Bodmin Cornwall
Image credit:  Ben Watkins

Why Helman Tor?

Helman Tor nature  reserve features a vast expanse of wild wetland at the heart of Cornwall, which would be further enhanced and revitalised by the presence of these native herbivores.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Head of Conservation, Cheryl Marriott, explained: “Cornwall’s landscape is well suited to beavers because we have very little flat, low-lying land. If we can allow beavers space in the valley bottoms, we can enjoy the benefits they bring and other land use can continue alongside. Of course, we need to be ready to deal with any problems, but there are many more advantages to bringing beavers back than disadvantages.”

Beavers have the incredible and unique ability to make Cornwall more resilient to both drought and flooding. Their dam building behaviour only occurs on smaller streams. It reduces flood flows after heavy rain by slowing the flow of water. Beaver activity forms new ponds and they create open coppice glades, supporting a host of other wildlife. As the water is slowed by the dams there is a filter effect, reducing pollution further downstream in our estuaries and coastal waters. A bonus is that the new wetlands also capture carbon.

Beavers bring considerable benefits to wildlife and we are so excited to see this first-hand at Helman Tor.

Date: April 2023