The beaver enclosure is a joint venture between Capel Manor and Enfield Council. The introduction of the pair of beavers into this small site has attracted media attention and, inevitably, some hype. It is a five year project that will enable students at the college to gain experience of wild life introduction. Whether it will make any significant difference to flood control in the area is debatable.
“Rewilding” with large animals is always attractive but high profile ventures such as these can distract attention from the less dramatic but more significant environmental threats elsewhere. Will two beavers offset the environment damage done to Whitewebbs Park if the Spurs’ plans to construct two astroturf pitches and several plastic reinforced hybrid pitches are approved by the council?
I have visited the beaver enclosure and there is much to be said for it as an educational project. It may also be a tourist attraction like a zoo, but more Whipsnade than Regents Park. There are, however, some important questions to be asked about the project.
It seems that there were serious deficiencies in the planning and environmental control of the project.
1. Large numbers of mature trees were cut down without the necessary approval required in a conservation area. Were appropriate council officers consulted? Was the work monitored? Who was responsible for the proper management of the project? How was habitat destruction balanced against habitat creation for two beavers?
2. A planning application was rushed through long after the work was started. The application went in on 18th January 2022 and was approved on 2nd February – just over two weeks later. Has anyone had their planning application approved this quickly?
Many people who walk Archers Wood were concerned by the amount of habitat destruction – there was particular concern about the removal of so many mature trees. There was a suggestion that trees would be planted elsewhere but young seedlings are no substitute for a 100 year old oak or beech.
It is disturbing to see that this project apparently went ahead without proper monitoring and control and without gaining planning approval in a conservation area. This was a project in which the Council was a main player
This does raise concerns over the Council’s competence to oversee much larger projects with a far greater environmental impact such as Spurs plans for major construction work in Whitewebbs Park.
Visit the beaver enclosure using the footpaths from Whitewebbs and from Forty Hall , Some people have reported sightings of the animals later in the day. On the southern edge you can see more of the old course of the New River – see how many of the cast iron markers you can spot.