ANB is currently preparing a second species protection programme (SBP) for the European beaver (Castor fiber). The ongoing evaluation of the first SBP shows that the beaver has almost reached the favourable conservation status in Flanders by the end of the planned 5-year period. However, the growing number of beavers is also causing an increase in the number of cases of damage and a reduction in support for the species. This created an area of tension with flood risk management (e.g. by digging into banks and flood defences which could lead to flooding), with the realization of other nature or conservation objectives and the objectives of the Water Framework Directive, and with agriculture (through damage to crops caused by water and by being eaten away at). Where the species is strictly protected by legislation, the problem of damage raises a question of control.
On the basis of this evaluation, ANB considers it necessary to draw up a new and revised SBP, again with a double objective:
- To finally achieve and maintain the favourable conservation status of this protected European species, by describing conservation measures;
- To deal with and act on the potential damage caused by the species, thus minimising tensions with other policy objectives and societal activities.
In view of the complexity and sensitivity of the problem, ANB asks INBO to map the risk of damage and possible prevention of damage objectively and scientifically based.
The requested scientific advice is aimed at translating this information in such a way that it can be applied in the SBP.