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After being hunted to extinction centuries ago, beavers are finally returning to England — with an important new job

Experts recognize beavers as a "keystone species."


Photo Credit: iStock

A pair of beavers will soon be released into an Ewhurst Park estate in southern England, reports the Guardian.

Beavers were once so desired for their meat, fur, and scent glands that the population was hunted to oblivion in England almost 400 years ago. 

However, in recent years, the government has been working to restore the beaver population, licensing releases at multiple locations across the country. Just last year, a new law was passed that made it illegal to kill or injure these animals. 

The Ewhurst Park release will be the first time beavers have returned to the county of Hampshire, according to the Guardian. 

Mandy Lieu, the estate owner, is an entrepreneur, model, and environmentalist who has worked with experts to prepare an appropriate habitat for the beavers. 

She has also been in communication with area residents and local farmers about what's ahead, because beavers won't just live on her land — they'll change it.

Experts, including the National Park Service, recognize beavers as a "keystone species." This is because the dams they build slow and back up water passing through the land, creating new wetlands and ponds. This change in the environment attracts new species of birds and insects, completely renovating the local ecosystem. 

For Lieu, the goal is "an estate-wide biodiversity transformation." Beavers and the wetlands they create are key to restoring this area to its more natural, historical state.

This is also good news for local residents. 

Rewilding Britain reports that beaver-created wetlands reduce flooding in downstream communities by as much as 60%. Where once water would have passed quickly over packed ground, creating flash floods and carrying away topsoil, the wetlands slow it down and give it time to absorb into the soil.

They also store water and release it slowly in times of drought. As Lieu told the Guardian, "These beavers are not just for Ewhurst, but for the whole community and local area for generations to come."

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