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London welcomes urban beavers for first time

London welcomes urban beavers for first time
  • Family of beavers returns to urban London site for the first time in 400 years.
  • London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, celebrated the beaver reintroduction to Ealing in pioneering urban project, which will allow public access to a beaver wetland.
  • Habitat creation, flood alleviation and community engagement at heart of unique nature enhancement project.
  • The public will be welcomed to observe these magnificent mammals in action in one month’s time, once the beaver family have settled in.

A family of Eurasian beavers has been released today at Paradise Fields, an area of woodland and wetlands in urban Greenford, in the London Borough of Ealing. The return of this native species is part of a collaborative project plan to boost wildlife, increase the urban landscape’s climate resilience and engage thousands of people in nature. Crucially, the project aims to reduce flood risk in urban Greenford.

Following public consultation and a special licence being granted by Natural England, the beavers have been relocated from wild populations in Scotland by experts at the Beaver Trust and Five Sisters Zoo. They will be monitored by Ealing Beaver Project staff and volunteers as they establish their new home in the 8-hectare fenced enclosure.

Beaver release
Beaver release

A phenomenal volunteer effort has helped prepare the site for the arrival of these ecosystem engineers, with community members fully trained to monitor beaver welfare. The project is a collaboration between Ealing Wildlife Group, Citizen Zoo, Friends of Horsenden Hill and Ealing Council, with support from Beaver Trust, and funding from the Mayor of London and Amazon’s Right Now Climate Fund in partnership with the London Wildlife Trust and Groundwork London, under the Rewild London Fund.

The site will be temporarily closed for a period of one month, to allow the beavers time to settle in. For the following month, members of the public will be able to visit the site under the supervision of staff and volunteers for another month. After this, full public access will resume, offering a groundbreaking opportunity to experience the emergence of an urban beaver wetland first-hand. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: I am delighted to welcome back beavers to West London for the first time in 400 years, with the support of my Rewild London Fund. We are facing climate and ecological emergencies worldwide, but we have the power to make a difference, and I am committed to ensuring that London is at the forefront of reversing the trends of declining biodiversity and the destruction of nature. 

“I’m proud that we are turning London into a wildlife haven, as well as making the city more resilient to the effects of climate change, as we work to clean up our city, re-establish lost species and reconnect people and nature, building a greener, fairer city for all Londoners. I encourage groups to apply to the fund now.” 

Dr Sean McCormack, vet and Chair of Ealing Wildlife Group said: “It’s unbelievably exciting that after a lot of hard work and volunteer effort to make this happen, we’re welcoming beavers back to Ealing. We’re excited to show they can have benefits in the urban landscape, not only for wildlife but for people too. Their activities here over the coming years should provide effective nature-based solutions to urban problems such as flood mitigation and improved water quality. We’re also excited to see the wildlife that shows up on site and the effects that having nature on your doorstep can have for urban communities.”  

Elliot Newton, cofounder of Citizen Zoo said: “We are incredibly proud to be part of this pioneering project, which will help to challenge perceptions about what is possible in urban settings. Beavers can be found in urban environments across Europe and North America, and here we will help to demonstrate how we can embrace nature-rich and functional landscapes even in built-up landscapes such as Ealing”. 

Martin Smith of Friends of Horsenden Hill said: “The Friends of Horsenden Hill are delighted and excited to be involved in this first release of beavers into a fully accessible urban site. Our volunteers have been involved in the site preparation and will continue to be involved with ongoing site monitoring and maintenance. We look forward to seeing how the beavers change and improve this site over the months and years.” 

Head of Restoration at Beaver Trust, Dr Roisin Campbell-Palmer, said: “It’s an important move in the species’ restoration; “Projects like these offer an ideal opportunity to promote engagement with this species while we await a national policy framework for wild releases. It’s incredibly rewarding to see community-driven action to reconnect more people with nature and welcome beavers back into this urban landscape.

The Ealing Beaver Project will offer a blueprint for other community restoration projects driven by passionate people looking to build local landscape resilience. Beaver Trust is looking forward to working with the team here to facilitate education on beavers and the importance of giving nature more space, and to help build a better understanding of this dynamic ecosystem engineer.”

Beavers are a native species and were once commonplace along British rivers and streams, but they were hunted to extinction here around the 16th century, prized for their thick fur, meat and scent glands. Over the last 20 years they have been reintroduced to a handful of sites around Britain, largely in enclosures such as the one at Ealing.”

Councillor Deirdre Costigan, Ealing Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for climate action, said:

“The whole borough is excited about bringing beavers back to Ealing as part of this genuine community partnership. Ealing Council is delighted to have provided funding and dedicated land at Paradise Fields to help make history in Ealing as we provide a home for urban beavers once again.

“As part of our Biodiversity Action Plan we want to work with local communities to create new habitats, as well as create 10 new parks, planting 50,000 trees and rewilding 800,000sqm of the borough. From flooding to drought, beavers offer nature-based solutions that will help in our fight against the climate crisis. I hope our newest beaver residents settle in nicely to their new home in Ealing.”

Zak Watts, Director of European Sustainability, Amazon, said: “Bringing nature back to the communities where we live and work is a core purpose of our Right Now Climate Fund. Reintroducing a family of beavers to the capital will not only help Londoners discover and reconnect with nature but also help improve our city’s biodiversity challenge.”

Beaver facts 

  • Beavers build dams to create deep pools of water, enabling them safety from predators and submerging their lodge access. The dams, ponds and channels they create result in mosaic wetland habitats which slow, store and spread water into the landscape. This can help mitigate flooding downstream in periods of high flow.
  • The wetland habitats they create also attract a diverse variety and abundance of wildlife, including amphibians, bats, dragonflies, butterflies, owls, moorhens and woodpeckers.
  • Beavers are vegetarian – they exclusively eat plants. They feed on aquatic plants, grasses, herbaceous plants and shrubs during the summer months and woody plant matter in winter. They will often store woody forage material for winter feeding. 
  • They are highly adapted to the aquatic environment and can remain underwater for up to 15 minutes. They have protective eyelids to see underwater and can close both their nostrils and ears to prevent water from entering.
  • The iconic incisor teeth of the beaver are a vivid orange from the iron content in their enamel, giving them serious strength for gnawing and coppicing hardwood.

About Paradise Fields

Paradise Fields is a 10-hectare site comprising woodland, wetlands and meadows in North Greenford, Ealing, and is part of the wider 100-hectare Horsenden Hill green space. It lies to the south of the Grand Union Canal and has a tributary of the Costons Brook flowing through it, which joins the Brent river and later the Thames. The beaver enclosure incorporates most of the site, spanning 8 hectares in total and a section of the Capital Ring circular walking and cycling route around London passes through the site. 

About Ealing Beaver Group

This project is a collaboration between Ealing Wildlife Group, Citizen Zoo, Friends of Horsenden Hill and Ealing Council, with support from Beaver Trust and Mayor of London. The aims of the project are to explore how beavers can alleviate flood risk on an urban river catchment, study the biodiversity benefits they can bring with a view to later reintroducing water voles on site and to capture the imaginations of urban communities by demonstrating the benefits of living alongside nature. We also want to learn and show stakeholders how to manage beavers in the urban context as wild, free-living populations expand in the UK and will inevitably begin to appear in our towns and cities over the coming years. 

About Beaver Trust

Beaver Trust is a nature restoration charity restoring beavers to regenerate our landscapes. They provide practical solutions to help people live alongside beavers and support legislation that rebuilds ecosystems and strengthens climate resilience in a time of ecological and climate crisis. For more information visit 

About Five Sisters Zoo

Accredited by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, its mission is to encourage the conservation of endangered wildlife of both native and non-native species and to create a safe and natural environment for all animals in the collection, maintaining the highest standards of animal care and welfare.

The zoo, at Gavieside, West Calder in West Lothian, takes its name from the Five Sisters shale bings that overlook the site – remnants of the shale oil industry, a nationally important Scottish site and a protected monument.