Scotland builds first-ever ‘beaver tunnel’ under railway to protect local animals – Totally Vegan Buzz

Scotland builds first-ever ‘beaver tunnel’ under railway to protect local animals

Scotland builds first ever ‘beaver tunnel’ under railway to protect local animals
Image: Podolnaya Elena / Shutterstock.com

The railway engineers built a ‘beaver pass’ to make sure the animals can safely pass under the tracks without damaging railway embankments.

Scotland’s Network Rail engineers have constructed UK’s first-ever ‘beaver pass’ under the Highland mainline.

 It has been built to allows animals near Gleneagles- part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designated for wet woodland, scrub and fen meadow habitats – to safely pass on the other side of the railway.

 The tunnel will also take care of flooding problems in the area after beavers blocked a culvert by building a beaver lodge under the track.

After consulting beaver specialists at NatureScot, workers installed a special pipe with a wild mesh fitted on either side to protect the railway while still allowing the movement of wildlife through the existing culvert.   They had to first pump out the water from the culvert and extricate a 5-metre-long dam previously built by the animals, which led to flooding from time to time.

The beaver pass installation was done in accordance with Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) best practice guidelines for transforming culverts.

‘Sensitive solutions that allow us to co-exist’

James Morrison, ecologist, with Network Rail Scotland said:  “To a beaver, a culvert probably looks like a hole in a dam – the barriers they build to restrict the flow of water – so they are very popular damming spots.

“The action we took near Gleneagles is the first beaver pass installed in the country that we are aware of. It is a repeatable solution which works to protect Scotland’s Railway as well as safeguarding the beaver populations and other wildlife.

“The beavers will naturally expand across Scotland and as they do it is possible they could occasionally impact Network Rail’s infrastructure through felling trees onto the line, flooding caused by their dams or burrowing into railway embankments. However, they are an important keystone species and we need a proactive approach and sensitive solutions that allow us to co-exist.”

‘Beavers are an important component of a healthy ecosystem’

Eurasian beavers are listed as European Protected Species. Applauding Network Rail’s efforts to protect the endangered species while keeping Scotland’s railway safe, Dr Roo Campbell, a member of NatureScot’s Beaver Mitigation Team, said: “Beavers are an important component of a healthy ecosystem whose presence usually brings a host of benefits, including creating ponds and wetlands where other species thrive, alleviating downstream flooding, and improving water quality.

“But occasionally they can cause issues. Our team advise on and provide mitigation against beaver issues across Tayside, but this situation is definitely one of the most challenging we’ve faced.

“We are pleased that Network Rail have been so proactive in working to live with the beavers at the site. NatureScot will continue to monitor the effect the beavers have on the SSSI.”

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