Beavers to return to Exmoor

The National Trust has announced that Exmoor’s Holnicote Estate has been chosen as one of two areas in the UK where beavers will be introduced to help rivers help manage climate change.

“We’re releasing beavers at Holnicote in Somerset and Valewood on the edge of the South Downs to improve flood management and support wildlife on our rivers. The beavers will help make areas of the river more resilient to climate change and the extremes of weather it will bring. The dams they create will hold water in dry periods, help to lessen flash-flooding downstream, reduce erosion and improve water quality.”

River Aller, Exmoor in Somerset

Reconnecting our rivers and streams to the surrounding landscape guards against severe weather and attracts a greater variety of plants and animals. In what is the first project of its kind in the UK, we’re trialling groundbreaking work to protect our rivers from climate change and flooding and protect wildlife. We’ve partnered with the Environment Agency and European programme Interreg 2 Seas Co-Adapt to restore a tributary of the river Aller, which passes through the Holnicote Estate.

The waterways that flow through these confined sites in Porlock Vale respond rapidly to rainfall, and pose a flood risk to settlements downstream. We’re working to slow the flow of these streams by reconnecting them with the floodplain – allowing the wider landscape to absorb the effects of the weather. This will also improve conditions for wildlife that lives in the streams such as eels and brook lampreys, as well as otters and the resident bat population that forages and breeds nearby.

According to an article in The TelegraphBen Eardley, project manager for the National Trust at Holnicote, said: “Our aim is that the beavers become an important part of the ecology at Holnicote, developing natural processes and contributing to the health and richness of wildlife in the area.

“Their presence in our river catchments is a sustainable way to help make our landscape more resilient to climate change and the extremes of weather it will bring.”

Two families of beavers will be released into two wooded enclosures in Porlock Vale which will be fenced so the impact of the animals on the local ecology and the river can be assessed and understood with the support of Exeter University and other organisations.

The Guardian quotes Eardley: “The beavers will help us achieve a more natural flow pattern, slowing, cleaning and storing water and developing complex river habitats. The dams the beavers create will hold water in dry periods, help to lessen flash flooding downstream and reduce erosion and improve water quality by holding silt.”

The beavers will be transferred from Scotland, where they have been successfully breeding since being reintroduced in 2006. The National Trust beavers are expected to breed and when the young become mature they will need to be moved, possibly to other sites owned or run by the charity.

A footpath will run close to the pens on the Holnicote estate which will allow members of the public to catch a glimpse of the animals.

Things to do at Easter: Lambing Open Days at Borough Farm

Lambing Open Days

Borough Farm

March 30th and 31st, April 1st 2013 11 am to 4 pm

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Even after 25 years of sheep farming, there is still a wonder in watching the arrival of new lambs, even if the lambing season does herald long hours and little sleep. In 2013 we’ll be opening the barn doors again, for our forth year of Lambing Open Days.

It’s always a little bit daunting to invite visitors onto the farm right in the middle of the busiest time of the year. But the response has been great, and with the new lambing barn viewing gallery proving a great success, we had several hundred people visiting the barns each year, and we’ve been delighted with the reaction so far (see guest book comments)

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The ewes have been very obliging, giving birth right on cue, so much so that almost everyone who came was able to see a lamb born. To me there is just as much wonder in seeing how quickly a lamb is on it’s feet and suckling from it’s mother, and a visit of a couple of hours allowed most visitors to see lambs born, then making those first vital steps.

Of course there is far more to lambing than just the arrival of the lambs, so the rest of the barns were set out to allow easy access, with information posters describing the workings of the lambing barns, together with shepherding traditions and sayings.

We’re opening at  11 am until  4 pm  From Saturday 30th March 2013 to Monday 1st of April.

Please wear outdoor footwear.

Admission £5 for Adults, £2.50 for Children over 4.

IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN

There is a small chance of infection carried by pregnant sheep being transferred to pregnant women. Although the risk is very low, medical advice is that pregnant women should not have contact with sheep during the lambing season

If you expecting a baby, please do not visit our lambing open day.

For more info, go to the Borough Farm website.

Borough Farm is the home of David Kennard and Channel 5’s star of “Sheepdog Tales” Mist.