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Beaver sub-groups

A beaver kit feeding on willow in the water
Beaver kit feeding on willow in an enclosed site, Poole Harbour catchment, Dorset Wildlife Trust

400 years ago, beavers were driven to extinction in our catchments and, indeed, nationally. Now they are re-colonising our rivers, providing environmental benefits including improved water quality, natural flood management and increased biodiversity. However, their presence in a landscape which has changed significantly in their long absence is not without its adverse impacts in some cases. Our partnership includes groups with views on all sides of the conversation around beavers returning to our water environment. In acknowledgement of this, we set up the Dorset Beaver Working Group in 2018 to provide a space for informed, evidence-based conversations around how to manage this return.

Now, as well as a number of captive colonies across the county, there is a growing free-living population and a potential need for management of these animals where conflicts arise. Consequently, in 2023, the Working Group set up the Dorset Stour Beaver Management Group.

The terms of reference for both groups, and the Catchment Partnerships' position statement on beavers are available below. In summary:

Dorset Beaver Working Group

  • Is made up of local policymakers, regulators, academics, and conservation, farming, river management and fishing organisations to ensure that all views around beavers in our riparian landscapes are represented and heard.
  • Provides a strategic overview to communicating and managing the issues and benefits arising from the presence of Eurasian Beaver (Castor fiber) within Dorset catchments.
  • Reviews new data and study outputs in order to inform management of captive and free-living beavers, and mitigation of unwanted impacts
  • Provides a steering function to the Management Group.

Dorset Stour Beaver Management Group

  • Is made up of qualified practitioners from across our partnership, who hold Natural England licenses to carry out relevant beaver management activities.
  • Co-ordinates and provides consistency of responses by qualified partners to stakeholder enquiries relating to beaver management in the Dorset Stour catchment.
  • Provides a network for partners to share learning, best practice and resources for beaver management,
  • Co-ordinates communications links to stakeholders and the wider community.

You can find information on beaver ecology, licensing for beaver management, and links to national policy and management information at