Beavers that were reintroduced to Argyll can now remain after the Scottish Government has formally recognised the semi-aquatic mammals as a native species.
“This is a major milestone for Scotland’s wildlife and the wider conservation movement,” said Jonathan Hughes, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
The five-year Scottish Beaver Trial took place in Knapdale, Argyll and concluded in 2014.
A total of 16 beavers from Telemark, Norway were introduced between May 2009 and September 2010 to a number of lochs in the Knapdale area.
It is the first formal mammal reintroduction in UK history, led by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
Through this formal recognition, the project partners will be able to reinforce the existing beaver population in this area.
In addition, the established population on the River Tay will be allowed to remain in place.
“Beavers are one of the world’s best natural engineers. Their ability to create new wetlands and restore native woodland is remarkable,” said Hughes.
Over the next few years, there are plans for further releases across its former ranges to secure a long-term future for beaver populations in Scotland.
Find out more about the Scottish Beaver Trial.
Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine