On a beautiful August evening, members of Mylor and Flushing WI and friends, kitted up with wellies, made our way to Woodland Valley Farm near Ladock, to visit the Cornwall Beaver Project. The women first had a briefing from Tom Shelley of Cornwall Wildlife Trust who host the project with considerable university research input. They then followed Chris, along with the farmer and owner of the land down a muddy track into the heavily-wooded valley bottom where the stream, dammed several times already by beavers, opened out into a large tree-lined pool.
Chris explained that beavers, native to Britain but hunted nearly to extinction, have been found to have a beneficial effect both on wildlife and in helping to prevent flooding. This works by the beavers’ dams and channels helping to hold back water so it is released slowly into rivers, instead of in an immediate deluge.
The women spread out around the pond as dusk fell and kept quiet, hoping the beavers wouldn’t be shy. Two beavers were introduced two years ago and they have now produced two kits. Members were rewarded very quickly by seeing the adults come out of their lodge, followed by the two kits! It was pure magic and nobody dared breathe as the beavers hauled out on the bank, groomed and started feeding, then swam up and down as if giving a performance.
The group of women didn’t leave until they were forced to by gathering darkness, and they left to the sound of loud gnawing by the male beaver, doing his nightly work of making dams.
Do have a look at the Cornwall Beaver Project website and plan your own visit to Woodland Valley Farm if you can.