News Stories

Beaver Trial Wins Prestigious Conservation Award
24 January 2014

Photograph by Philip Rice


The Scottish Beaver Trial, the first ever licensed reintroduction project for beavers in the UK, has won ‘Britain’s Best Conservation Project’ in the 2013 BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.


The Trial was up against two other conservation projects in this category: a basking shark tagging project aimed at understanding the world’s largest fish and a campaign against the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are having a detrimental effect on bee populations.


A partnership between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Scottish Wildlife Trust, the five year study is now in its final monitoring year and fieldwork is scheduled to wrap up in May 2014. There will then be a holding period while Scottish Government reviews data collected throughout the trial and makes its decision on the future of beavers in Scotland.


Simon Jones, Project Manager for the Scottish Beaver Trial, said:

“We are honoured to accept the award for Britain’s Best Conservation Project in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards, especially in the final year of the project. This is amazing recognition for the project and its conservation value. The team’s devotion to the Trial, including raising awareness of the ecological benefits of beavers, has been tireless over the past five years.


“As the first licensed mammal reintroduction project to take place in the UK, the Trial is hopefully paving the way for potential reintroduction projects in the future. Research conducted by our field team is also being used to advise international programmes on areas including beaver health and management.”


Dr Rob Ogden, Director for Conservation for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said:


“It is a tremendous achievement for the Scottish Beaver Trial to win Britain’s Best Conservation Project; this accolade highlights the excellent work RZSS is doing for conservation science and research, not only within Scotland, but also around the world. With conservation and reintroduction projects becoming ever more crucial for sustaining the world’s ecological diversity, we will continue to strive for excellence in these areas.”


Simon Milne, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said:

“This award is great recognition of the pioneering work to return the beaver to the wild in the United Kingdom. Over the past five years, everyone involved in the trial has worked extraordinary hard to ensure this project has the best chance of success.


“I am thrilled that the team and all those associated with the project are being recognised in this way.  It is good to be appreciated – not least for those who spent countless dark nights up to their knees in cold water monitoring beavers!


“The Scottish Wildlife Trust congratulates the Scottish Beaver Trial team on this brilliant award.”


Gillian French, Biffa Award Programme Manager, said:


“We have always been proud to support this project and I’m delighted that the important work of the Scottish Beaver Trail has been recognised and awarded the winner of ‘Britain’s Best Conservation Project’ by the 2013 BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.”


Launched in 2009, the Trial is a five year scientific study that is monitoring the re-introduction of a group of wild Eurasian beavers into the Knapdale Forest in the Heart of Argyll. Consisting of four beaver families, the Trial aims to assess the effects beaver reintroduction has on the local environment as well as tourism and the community.


Now in its third year, the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards are a celebration of the British countryside and its people – from great heritage attractions and favourite countryside writers, to the best conservation projects and the finest market towns. The 2013-14 awards were launched in the August 2013 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine and feature 10 categories.


BBC Countryfile Magazine asked experts in each field to draw up shortlists of candidates in each category. The awards were then voted for by readers of the magazine and members of the public via post, email and on the BBC Countryfile Magazine website,


For more information about the work of the Scottish Beaver Trial please refer to the website: 


Notes to editors:

Throughout the Trial, an independent scientific monitoring programme will be coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage to assess the effect beavers have on the local environment.

The Trial commenced in May 2009 when the beavers first arrived in Knapdale and is set to last for five years. Beyond its conclusion in 2014, there will be a period for reporting where the impact of the beavers' activities on the environment and economy will be assessed.

The beaver families participating in the Trial were all caught in the Telemark region of Norway and transported to quarantine facilities in Devon and Scotland. They all completed a statutory quarantine period before being released in the Trial site.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is a registered charity, charity no SC004064. RZSS was founded by visionary lawyer Thomas Gillespie. The Society was set up in 1909 ‘to promote, facilitate and encourage the study of zoology and kindred subjects and to foster and develop amongst the people an interest in and knowledge of animal life’.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust is the largest voluntary body working for all the wildlife of Scotland, representing well over 30,000 members who care for wildlife and the environment.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust seeks to raise public awareness of threatened habitats and species and manages over 120 reserves Scotland-wide.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust receives financial assistance and support from a range of organisations, funders and individuals including Scottish Natural Heritage and Players of People’s Postcode Lottery.


For further information please contact:

Lizzie Riley, RZSS PR Coordinator, on 0131 314 0383 or

Ryan Gavan, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, PR and Communications Officer, on 0131 312 4742