Plans to create what could be England’s largest beaver enclosure at one of the country’s top garden attractions have been given the green light.
Planning permission has been granted for Trentham, in Staffordshire, to build an enclosure within the historic 725-acre estate, which will house up to four Eurasian Beavers from Spring 2023.
A green oasis on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent, the parkland and gardens have undergone a huge regeneration programme since re-opening to the public in 2004, including steps to increase biodiversity and re-introduce important species.
Once a showpiece country estate and then a pleasure park known as the ‘Playground of the Potteries’, it was largely abandoned for 20 years before being restored and re-opened as a visitor attraction, in what was later dubbed “the gardens makeover of the decade”.
But along with the famous Italian Gardens, parkland, lake, adventure playground and sculptures, Trentham is also a natural haven for wildlife.
Ancient Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) woodlands are home to historic trees and rare species and the Estate also has a broad range of habitats popular with birds, bug life, otters, deer, amphibians and reptiles.
Now, the Estate is playing a vital role in helping to protect endangered native species.
Summer 2022 saw hundreds of water voles released into the lush habitat around the Capability Brown designed lake to boost the population and help bring them back from the brink of extinction in Staffordshire.
And they are set to be joined by the Eurasian beaver, a large herbivore mammal once a common sight in the UK but hunted to extinction around 400 years ago.
Beavers played a crucial role in Britain’s wetland landscapes from prehistoric times and the decline of the species led to loss of the mosaic of lakes, meres, mires and boggy places.
The animals are often referred to as ‘ecosystem engineers’ – creating diverse and dynamic wetlands with their activities – and their role in combating climate change is increasingly being recognised.
While the animals are more widespread in Scotland, their introduction across the UK needs to be carefully controlled and can be unsuitable for certain places, such as agricultural areas.
In a bid to help re-introduce the species, Trentham is offering a safe new home for relocated beavers and has a licence from Natural England for up to four in the new enclosure around the perimeter of the lake and wider Gardens, which will help keep the beavers safe and prevent them from escaping.
Trentham is working alongside ecologist and author Derek Gow for the project, which is being supported by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, The Beaver Trust and The Environment Agency.
For more details about Trentham’s beaver plans, see https://bit.ly/3BxV1Py
General tourist information on Stoke-on-Trent and The Potteries can be found at www.visitstoke.co.uk
Photo: The Trentham Estate