SCOTTISH invaders are coming to a Yorkshire forest after an absence of more than 300 years.

Forestry England has brought a pair of Eurasian beavers from Scotland to Cropton Forest for a revolutionary trial in natural flood management.

Spanning five years, the trial - a collaboration with Forest Research, the University of Exeter (UoE) and beaver experts - will assess the impact of the beavers’ activity on the long-term sustainability and maintenance of the forest’s pioneering ‘Slowing the Flow’ project.

The project, which includes artificial wooden dams and other natural flood management measures, has been helping to protect areas, including nearby Pickering, from flooding.

It has already been hailed a big success and is a potential model for other flood prone areas across the country.

Forestry England expects the beavers’ activity at Cropton will also improve biodiversity and will monitor the site to assess these benefits over the course of the trial.

Ecologist Cath Bashforth said: “The site is ideal for Eurasian beavers, with plenty of food and water along the 824 metres of beck and the two old ornamental fish ponds.

“The habitat is a combination of broad-leaves and conifers and there is a lot of willow scrub and young birch woodland with open areas to provide summer grazing.

“Beavers are natural habitat engineers, restoring complex wetlands and providing habitat for declining species whilst slowing the flow of water.

“We are delighted to welcome beavers to Cropton Forest and are keen to observe the many benefits they should bring to local communities and the wider environment.”

More than 40 volunteers are carrying out surveys of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, bats and small mammals, otters, fungi, aquatic and terrestrial plants, fish, spiders and reptiles, over the course of the trial.

In addition, UoE hydrologists will be able to produce valuable scientific data about the impact of the beavers, and academics from the University of Leeds will be using high-tech laser scanning of the site to assess topographical changes.

To follow the trial go to