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Potential psychological benefits of nature enrichment through the reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) to Britain
Biodiversity is declining in the UK, which is considered one of the most nature depleted parts of the world. The reestablishment of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) has been posited as an effective means of facilitating a restoration of biodiversity in Britain, and following successful trials, nationwide reintroduction is being considered. This literature review considers the potential psychological benefits of such an initiative. Beavers could act as a ‘super restorer’, facilitating psychological as well as ecological restoration through a beneficial synergy of effects. Through their eco-engineering activities, beavers increase biodiversity at the landscape scale and facilitate habitat restoration and creation (creating a mosaic of green and blue space, and a sense of wilderness) all of which can increase the psychological well-being of visitors. Their creation of biodiverse natural settings offers the possibility of increased nature connectedness and nature-based psychological restoration amongst some of the human population of the UK. Beaver reintroduction may represent a partial antidote to ‘shifting baseline syndrome’ and beavers could act as a flagship species and become a totem of hope as eco-anxiety increases. Beavers can potentially have negative psychological impacts, and this will require appropriate planning, management and communication among stakeholders coupled with community-led initiatives to mitigate. Overall psychological benefits of beaver reintroduction likely exceed that of any other single species’ reintroduction or conservation initiative of equivalent cost, and far outweigh the costs of their reintroduction and management.