Giving beavers a head start on dams

By Sara Niven.

The young and young at heart enjoyed beavering away, creating dams at two events held recently at Corfe Castle.
Leaks are usually not seen as ideal but were welcomed as part of the Stop the Flow project organised by the National Trust.
The two Saturday events followed on from sessions held in the spring where volunteers learned how to make dams to slow the flow of water for environmental reasons.
Core team co-ordinator Luke M Luke from Planet Purbeck said the sessions had been a resounding success, with participants aged from five to 75 joining in.
“The desire to get outside while protecting and enhancing our natural environment spans all age ranges and this was a great opportunity to meet new people, enjoy some fresh air and have fun, in addition to getting out into some ‘lesser-spotted areas’ of Purbeck.”

He explained the main aim of Stop the Flow was preventing the eutrophication of Poole Harbour – a situation where excessive nutrients including nitrogen lead to the spread of algae, blocking sunlight and resulting in a deterioration of water quality.
Slowing the natural flow of the water also has benefits for the streams, allowing phosphates and silt to settle longer there, which attracts more wildlife and increases biodiversity.
Clearing tree and foliage debris, also known as brash, from the streams allows additional light and oxygen in. The brash itself is then used to build the dams, creating a circular process.
“We are very hopeful that nature’s professionals – the beavers themselves – will be back in spring 2023 as part of the Purbeck Beaver Project aimed at reintroducing beavers into the countryside,” adds Luke.
“It will take years for them to work their way throughout Purbeck though, so our efforts are aimed at giving them and the landscape a head start.”

The National Trust is currently mapping priority areas for the project, which include Studland and West Common in Corfe and will be monitoring the dams and recording their impact.

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