BEAVERS could be set to be reintroduced to a Highland glen 400 years after being driven to extinction in Scotland. 

Rewilding charity Trees for Life (TFL) are applying for a government licence to bring back beavers to Glen Affric in the Highlands. 

If the application is successful, beavers could be seen at Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin as early as autumn this year.

Under the plans up to three groups of beavers would be relocated from lower Tayside, where the animals would otherwise be culled due to their impact on agricultural land.

This follows the Government’s 2021 announcement that beaver populations should be actively expanded to suitable habitat across the country.

The application must include a monitoring and management plan to track how reintroduced beavers progress over time.

TFL carried out a community consultation last summer on behalf of four private landowners and Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), who all manage land in the glen with suitable beaver habitat.

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Alan McDonnell, conservation manager at TFL, said: “We’ve worked hard to ensure an inclusive, considered consultation, with all voices having the chance to be listened to.

“The return of beavers to Glen Affric would be a story of hope and renewal. These remarkable animals can help us tackle the nature and climate emergencies.

“Their dams create nature-rich wetlands that absorb carbon, reduce flooding downstream and improve water quality.”

TFL has long campaigned to protect beavers in Scotland, advocating for relocation to suitable habitat over culling when beavers have unwanted impacts on agricultural land.

FLS environment manager, Colin Edwards, said: “We are committed to seeing beavers reintroduced to suitable parts of Scotland where their presence will bring ecological benefits.

“However, we are sensitive to the concerns of adjacent landowners and the local community.

“Therefore, it is important that any plans to bring beavers to this part of Scotland are done with the involvement of those most directly affected.”

TFL's report highlights that in the area above the Beinn a’ Mheadhoin dam, most of the landowners support the reintroduction proposal.

Part of the background to the scheme has also been the unofficial presence of a small number of beavers on the River Glass and River Beauly for at least the past ten years.

Incidents of these beavers affecting people’s lives and interests appear to have caused only occasional and minor concern.

Beavers are a protected native species and were first officially reintroduced to Scotland in a trial project in 2009.

However, illegally released or escaped beavers were present in the river systems of Tayside some time before this.