The UK government has announced plans to introduce four beavers into the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire as a preventative measure against flooding.
Two adult Eurasian beavers and two kits will be released into a 6.5ha secure enclosure run by Devon Wildlife Trust next year to help improve biodiversity and build dams and ponds.
The scheme could be the first of many, as the government has published a framework for assessing applications for further trials across England.
The government said: "Scientists believe the beavers may be able to hold back enough water to help with flood alleviation for Lydbrook by quickly constructing natural dam structures and creating new habitats."
Michael Gove, the environment secretary, said: "The beaver has a special place in English heritage and the Forest of Dean proposal is a fantastic opportunity to help bring this iconic species back to the countryside 400 years after it was driven to extinction.
"The project is an example of the wider approach we are taking to enhance biodiversity, becoming the first generation to leave the environment in a better state for future generations and deliver on our plans for a green Brexit."
The government says that the beavers will be tested for disease before they are released and a management plan will be put in place to make sure the enclosure remains secure.
The project is financed by the Forestry Commission.
Image: A beaver (Wikimedia Commons)
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