By Alan McDonnell

AFTER four long centuries, could beavers be set to return officially to one of Scotland’s most famous glens?

That’s the question at the heart of a six-week community consultation, recently launched by Trees for Life to gather people’s views on the potential relocation of beavers from Tayside to Glen Affric and Strathglass.

This corner of the Highlands has superb beaver habitat. But the other essential aspect of any proposed reintroduction is to have an informed conversation – ensuring that all voices are heard, and the views of local people and stakeholders are understood.

This is an essential step in applying for a formal licence – a requirement for any beaver release – from the Scottish Government’s nature agency, NatureScot.

As a charity that has been working to rewild Glen Affric and restore the Caledonian Forest there for three decades, we are keen to see beavers return.

Beavers are superb ecosystem engineers. The dams they build can create nature-rich wetlands, hold back floodwaters, purify water, act as natural firebreaks to help manage wildfires, and soak up carbon dioxide.

Quite simply, these remarkable animals can be fantastic allies in tackling the climate and nature crises now outpacing us all. Their presence can also create economic benefits for rural communities.

Although beavers were reintroduced to Scotland in 2009, having been driven to extinction here some 400 years ago, there has yet to be an official reintroduction to the Highlands.

So it’s exciting to be carrying out this consultation on behalf of four private landowners and Forestry and Land Scotland. These landowners, who manage land capable of supporting the animals, are exploring the possibility of relocating up to six groups of beavers to the Rivers Affric, Glass and Beauly. Like us, they want to hear what people think.

Beavers can cause problems in some situations, and we recognise there may be concerns about this here. So we are keen that people judge the evidence of how beavers are likely to behave in this environment for themselves by visiting the webpages we have set up for the proposal.

Having gathered people’s views and listened to any concerns, the next step would be to submit a formal licence application to NatureScot in September. If the agency approves the licence, the first beavers could be relocated from lower Tayside this year.

A small beaver population that has quietly existed in Strathglass for at least 10 years, most likely derived from animals that escaped private collections, could be supplemented and secured by this proposal.

This is all possible because the Scottish Government now actively supports relocations to suitable locations across Scotland, having changed its approach to beaver management last year.

This is real progress for nature recovery. At Trees for Life, we have long campaigned to protect Scotland’s beavers – advocating for relocation to suitable habitat over culling when beavers have unwanted impacts, with culling retained as a genuine last resort.

In total, up to 12 adult beavers, possibly with dependent young, could be relocated to Glen Affric and Strathglass – all saved from culling in Tayside.

For details, to share views and to ask questions, visit or email

Alan McDonnell is Programme Development Manager, Trees for Life