|Beaver ponds on Vinal Creek in the Purcell Mountains, Montana|
All too often conservation news is bad. It's about dead raptors, mountain hare slaughter, the destruction of wild land by developments, about a desperate-seeming struggle to try and protect what's left. Occasionally though there's a positive story, a story that gives hope for the future, that eases the burden of concern. That was the case this week when the Scottish Government announced that beavers are to be officially recognised as a native species and that the two populations already existing in Scotland - those in the official reintroduction trial in Knapdale in Argyll and the unofficial ones along the River Tay - can remain.
The last beavers were exterminated in Scotland in the sixteenth century. Now, after 400 years, they are not only back but protected. This is very significant as it's the first formal reintroduction of a mammal ever in Scotland and the whole of the UK.
I think this is excellent news for the beavers, for wild land, and for the future. It sets a precedent that mammals can be reintroduced. It's the most cheering news for quite a while.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust was one of the lead partners in the Knapdale trial. There's much more information on the SWT website.