LOCH Lomond is set to play host to a family of wild beavers for the first time in hundreds of years after Scottish ministers gave the green light.

A family of beavers will be moved from Tayside to the Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve (NNR) thanks to new policy changes made by the Scottish Government allowing animals to be moved to new, suitable wetland areas.

Nature conservation charity RSPB Scotland welcomed the announcement - made by national conservation agency NatureScot - and stressed the importance these aquatic mammals will have to the local ecosystem.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland said: “We are incredibly excited to be able to offer a home to these amazing animals.

"The Loch Lomond NNR is an ideal home for beavers with fen, open water and wet woodland habitat for them to explore.

"Beavers are nature’s wetland creators capable of creating and managing habitats in a way that we could never hope to achieve.

"We are looking forward to seeing the benefits that beavers bring to the wider biodiversity, including amphibians, fish and wetland birds, as well as our visitors, who will hopefully see some of their engineering work over the coming years.”

All proposals to move beavers within Scotland require a licence from NatureScot and now the license has been granted, preparations are underway to move a small family group.

The beavers will be captured at their current location, then undergo a series of health checks before being transported to the RSPB Scotland nature reserve for release.

Once the beavers are released, they will be closely monitored by our site staff to see how they settle in.

Ahead of submitting the application to be a translocation release site, there were 10 weeks of local stakeholder engagement involving neighbours and local communities in the Gartocharn area. 

A number of events were held where stakeholders around the NNR could find out more about what the translocation would involve, learn about beaver ecology, and ask any questions and share their thoughts.

Eurasian beavers are native to Britain and used to be widespread in Scotland, sharing their waterways with humans for thousands of years until they went extinct in the 16th century.

Their loss was mainly due to hunting for fur, meat and ‘castoreum’ (a castor oil used mainly in perfumes), but also from loss of wetland habitat.  

Beavers are nature’s engineers, improving habitat to suit their needs and, in the process, creating wet woodland, open water and channels that benefit a whole range of species including dragonflies and fish.

Their activity can also reduce the speed of water flow, reduce the risks of flash flooding, and improve water quality, by trapping sediments.