I READ with interest about Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack’s visit to England’s first beaver reintroduction in east Devon this week.

The River Otter Beaver Trial is a five-year project, led by Devon Wildlife Trust in partnership with Exeter University, running until 2020.

The trial is monitoring the beavers’ impact on the landscape, other wildlife, water resources, water quality, local communities and infrastructure, and local farms.

Initial results reveal strong evidence for the role beavers might play in reducing flooding downstream, even during prolonged wet periods.

The trial is already producing promising results that indicate the role beavers can play in helping to protect our towns and cities from floods, while giving us a richer, more exciting natural world.

Floods are devastating for communities, as we have seen in Stroud - they destroy our homes and belongings, damage our economy and disrupt our daily lives. Without serious action to tackle climate change, the floods we face every winter are only going to get worse.

But just a small number of beavers can have a disproportionate effect on the environment around them, influencing water flow, improving water quality and increasing biodiversity and bringing great benefits to other wildlife.

Successful flood prevention means working with nature starting with our soils and land management which hold huge capacity to absorb intense rainfall, through to allowing more space for rivers and floodplains to behave more naturally, not covering it in concrete. This is about working with the grain of nature and not battling against it.

But there are potential challenges ahead, not least the possible impacts these industrious creatures could have on farmland. The trial is looking at all the possible impacts, and exploring how we can maximise the positive and minimise the negative ones.

I have heard of attempts to get salmon back to Salmon Springs, so why not introduce the beaver to the River Frome?

It may well complement the great work that Chris Uttley at Stroud District Council has been doing with Rural Sustainable Drainage in the Stroud Valleys.

Tracey Fletcher

Ruscombe Stroud