BEAVERS could roam free in Hyde Park under rewilding plans
BEAVERS could roam free in Hyde Park under London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ambitious £600,000 rewilding plans
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a £600,000 Rewild London Fund
- Hyde Park is among public spaces reported to be in line for a green overhaul
- Rewilding project could see beavers and other rare animals roaming in lakes and fields in central London
Hyde Park could be redesigned and become home to roaming beavers and other rare animals as a part of a huge rewilding project being backed by Sadiq Khan.
The London Mayor wants to boost nature in the capital, including making the royal parks wilder and encouraging people to plant green rooftops.
He has announced that £600,000 of taxpayers’ money will go into a Rewild London Fund, with another £300,000 to be spent on ‘Keeping it Wild’ traineeships for young people aged 16-25.
The plan will help Khan meet his stated aim for all Londoners to live within a 10-minute walk of green space.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a £600,000 Rewild London Fund to restore wildlife sites and create more natural habitats for plants and animals in the city
The Labour Mayor is also working with Ben Goldsmith, the brother of multi-millionaire Tory peer and environment minister Zac Goldsmith. He is also a non-executive director of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Mr Goldsmith said the plans would involve ‘more wild spaces, more scrub, river rewiggling and species reintroductions’.
These, in partnership with the London Wildlife Trust, will aim to support young Londoners who are black or Asian or from other minority ethnic communities, disabled or from areas of economic deprivation to develop green skills and remove barriers to entering the sector.
The Mayor of London said: ‘The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.
‘In London, we need to take bold action to ensure that we not only halt the decline of biodiversity in our natural environment but pave the way for growth and change.
‘That’s why I’ve announced my new Rewilding Fund, which will help restore the capital’s precious wildlife sites, improve biodiversity and ensure all Londoners have a thriving web of nature on their doorstep.
The £600,000 funding pot is expected to support about 25 projects. The funding is open to local authorities and organisations that look after land.
Hyde Park is among those reported to be in line for a green overhaul
Beavers are set to make a comeback to rivers across England under Government plans.
They will be given legal protection as a ‘native species’ with licences granted to allow their release into the wild.
Supporters of ‘rewilding’ beavers, following a successful reintroduction on the River Otter in Devon, say ‘nature’s engineers’ can help in the fight against flooding.
But farmers warn there is a risk that beavers could threaten their livelihoods by destroying crops.
The creatures had been extinct in the UK for around 400 years before being reintroduced in small areas in 2009.
Environment Secretary George Eustice will today launch a 12-week consultation over the plans and said the Government would take a ‘cautious approach’ to ensure all potential impacts were considered.
Under the plans, applications for licences to release beavers into the wild would need to meet certain criteria such as making sure support for landowners and river users is put in place.
Conservationists argue that beavers would boost eco-tourism and create important wetlands.
The animals could even cut the flow of water from flooding by up to 60 per cent via the dams they create, according to one study.
Supporters of ‘rewilding’ beavers, following a successful reintroduction on the River Otter in Devon, say ‘nature’s engineers’ can help in the fight against flooding
But farmers warn there is a risk that beavers could threaten their livelihoods by destroying crops
Rob Stoneman, of The Wildlife Trusts, said: ‘Beavers can help to improve the quality of rivers and wetlands and the wildlife they support, improve water quality, and reduce flood risk, as well as contributing to carbon storage.’
Richard Bramley, chairman of the National Farmers Union’s environment forum, said: ‘Any impact on a farmer’s ability to produce food needs to be included as part of a full impact assessment carried out before any licence is issued.
We must remember that beaver reintroductions can have negative impacts; potentially undermining riverbanks, damaging trees, impeding drainage and causing low-lying fields to flood.’
The first urban beavers are set to be introduced in Shrewsbury next year.
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