How about this for going back to nature to try to stop flooding.

A couple of beavers have been drafted into Essex to build dams which will slow the water flow – a far cry from massive multi-million pound flood alleviation schemes such as the Thames barrier.

The beavers have been taken from a colony in Devon to their new home which is a fenced enclosure covering 4 hectares of woodland on the Spains Hall estate in Finchingfield near Braintree.

It’s hoped the beavers will help reduce the risk of flooding in the village by building dams along the brook flowing through the enclosure.

The beavers are expected to get to work quickly, but the results of their labour may take a few months to be felt downstream.

Their enterprising activities are being complemented by a man-made natural flood management scheme on a second part of Finchingfield Brook which features a ‘leaky dam’ approach. This consists of securing tree branches or trunks across a watercourse, which helps slow the flow after heavy rain. The scheme should also create wetland that will release water in drier periods.

Eventually, using data collected by Environment Agency equipment stationed along the watercourses and other sensors installed around individual leaky dams and the beaver enclosure, scientists will be able to establish if this approach is more successful than more conventional flood prevention methods.

The beavers will have plenty of trees to get their teeth stuck into and a boundary fence helping to keep them safe.

Beavers have not been found in Essex for 400 years since they were hunted to extinction although they have been reintroduced in small numbers in other parts of the country in recent years.

The project is being led by Archie Ruggles-Brise, whose family has lived on the estate for 250 years, and has been supported by the Environment Agency, Essex Wildlife Trust and Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust and local councillors. Funding came from the Anglian Eastern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC).

Archie said: “It will be fascinating to see how the beavers perform alongside the man-made natural flood management dams and we are fortunate to have lots of high-tech devices and expert support in place to record the changes.”

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* Written by Andy Hirst at AH! PR