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Beavers: Translocation & Licencing

14 August 2023

The management of beavers in their current location will generally be more cost-effective and at a lower risk than moving them. Under the Beaver Management Framework actions to accommodate and mitigate beaver impacts must be prioritised before any direct intervention to remove the species is considered. Visit NatureScot’s Beaver Mitigation Scheme for more information on the priority management options.  

Translocation & Licencing are the next stages on the management framework, and are carried out under license by professionals when the previous management measures are not preventing serious damage to people, the environment and/or wildlife.  

Beaver knawing on a log

Photo: John Holland

Translocating Beavers to New Catchments

"Translocation of beavers" refers to the process of moving beavers from one location to another. This action is often taken for various reasons, including management translocation of ‘problem animals’, welfare translocation and conservation translocation. Read more about the different types of translocation and the policy context in Scotland.  

In November 2021 the Scottish Government announced a change in policy on beavers in Scotland to actively promote translocations to support the expansion of the beaver population. 

Beavers are known as "ecosystem engineers" since their dam-building activities can create wetlands and enhance biodiversity. In some cases, beavers might be translocated to restore degraded habitats or promote the recovery of certain species in specific areas. Watch the Argaty Estate Case Study video and hear from a farmer who has translocated beavers onto his land and the benefits he has seen.  

Case Study at Argaty Estate

Tom Bowser explains what it's like to farm alongside beavers. The benefits he has seen includes flooding and biodiversity, and how he has diversified his business through wildlife tourism. Watch video here.

Applications to translocate beavers to new catchments will be expected to follow the best practice as laid down in the Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations (SCCT) (based on the IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions and other Conservation Translocations).

The potential core beaver woodland area has been predicted for mainland Scotland. Read more on the methodology for predicting the potential habitat.

Catchment namePotential core beaver woodland area (ha)
River Spey7,086
River Tay6,996
River Dee (Grampian)4,421
River Tweed3,875
River Ness3,670
River Clyde3,364
River Leven/Loch Lomond2,650
River Forth2,649
River Lochy2,184
River Beauly2,182

The Cairngorms National Park Authority are working closely with a range of partners to develop a carefully considered proposal to bring beavers back to the River Spey Catchment in the Cairngorm National Park. They hope the beavers will help to restore wetland habitats, create native woodland and renaturalise the rivers. Read more about their process and the assumed benefits of their reintroduction.

Watch the Farm Advisory Case Study video to hear from The Cairngorm National Park Authority about the ongoing consultation process and from NatureScot, Atholl Estates and the Beaver Trust about what it is like to live alongside beavers.

Farm Advisory Case Study video

The Cairngorm National Park Authority (CPNA) is in the process of applying for a license to translocate beavers to the national park. Jonathan Willet and Lewis Pate from CNPA discuss what is involved in their beaver translocation process.Watch video here

Translocating beavers to your land

The engagement and overall support of local communities is essential for the success of a beaver translocation process. If you are thinking of translocating beavers to your land you must engage with those who are likely to be positively or negatively affected. A robust engagement process allows for any concerns to be gathered, opportunities to be highlighted and consideration given to potential mitigation options if any potential negative impacts are assumed.  

Read more about the process for translocation applications, consultation and assessment.

Removing beavers from your land

If beavers are causing serious issues to your land, there are options available to you. Removal options include beaver trapping and translocation and in the most extreme options lethal control. Before any removal action is taken, a license must be obtained from NatureScot and their three legal ‘tests’ must be satisfied.

Test 1 – Licence purpose:for preventing serious damage to certain interests such as crops, timber or fisheries, for public health and safety reasons or other important social, economic or environmental purposes which are in the public interest and for conserving natural habitats or wild animals.”

Test 2 – Alternatives: “that other possible actions that would either not require a licence or have less impact on beavers, have either been tried or are not likely to resolve the problem.”

Test 3 – Conservation impact: “to ensure that licensed actions do not harm the conservation status of beavers in Scotland and so will not affect population trends or the overall range of beavers.”

More information on NatureScot’s licensing tests, how to obtain licenses for removal and licensing for other ‘vulnerable situations’ can be found on their Guidance for land, property and infrastructure managers.

If you think you need a licence, or even if you are not sure, then you can call the licensing helpline on 01463 725364 or email

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