Four new Eurasian beavers have been released into two new 50-acre enclosures on the Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield, as part of a 'ground-breaking' natural flood management scheme.

Spains Hall Estate - which covers 2,000 acres of North Essex - first reintroduced Eurasian beavers in 2019 with the help of the Environment Agency, as a way of reducing flood risk to the village.

The beavers had previously been extinct in England since the early 16th century. Since their reintroduction, the beavers have had three sets of kits and transformed the woodland into a thriving wetland.

Dams, which the beavers created from locally felled trees, stick, stones and mud, have played a crucial role in reducing flood risk in the area by slowing the river flow and diverting it through new channels and wetlands.

Dunmow Broadcast: One of the beavers being released at Spains Hall Estate in FinchingfieldOne of the beavers being released at Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield (Image: Simon Hurwitz)

Due to the project's success, two new enclosures have been built along the Finchingfield Brook, which measure 1.9km long and cover 40 hectares (100 acres) - 10 times the size of the original enclosure.

This £350,000 scale-up of the project is supported by a partnership including Anglian Water, the Environment Agency, the Anglian Eastern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), Essex County Council and Essex and Suffolk Water.

Archie Ruggles-Brise, estate manager at Spains Hall Estate, said: "Thanks to the incredible support of our partners, we are thrilled to be expanding our natural flood management programme and welcoming more beavers onto the estate.

"This is one of the many ways we are pushing boundaries of what can be done on private land, and we hope to be an inspiration and example to others who can do replicate our work to help make farming more sustainable and environmentally friendly."

The project is the first of its kind in East Anglia and is part of a wider scheme to repurpose the estate's land towards a more environmentally sustainable future.

Dunmow Broadcast: A female beaver at Spains Hall Estate in FinchingfieldA female beaver at Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield (Image: Simon Hurwitz)

Matt Butcher, from the Environment Agency said: "The Environment Agency have been a proud partner of this project for the last five years, so it has been really exciting to see how the beavers have engineered their environment by building dams, slowing the flow and holding up water to reduce the risk of flooding downstream.

"The complex habitat they have created along the way is amazing and improving all the time, which makes this a real win-win for people and wildlife. We are excited to see the benefits this latest expansion brings."


Over time, the beavers will make the Finchingfield area better equipped to cope with the impact of climate change, and will also create a landscape not seen in East Anglia for over 400 years.

Cllr Peter Schwier, 'climate czar' at Essex County Council, said" "It’s been inspiring to see the natural engineering skills of the Essex beavers gradually transform habitats into wetlands, increasing biodiversity, which helps to reduce flooding in a low cost, natural environmentally friendly way.

"This supports the council’s ambitious climate actions and our Everyone’s Essex Strategy by helping to reduce flooding and protecting our communities."