Beavers and Tourism
The reintroduction of beaver populations in remoter areas could offer significant economic benefits for some rural communities where alternative sources of livelihood are less readily available. Wildlife tourism is becoming increasingly popular and there are many examples of iconic species being a major draw for visitors: the reintroduction of white-tailed eagles to Mull in Scotland has been estimated to inject around £1.7 million per year into the local economy; the Osprey Centre at Loch Garten in Scotland attracted 33,048 visitors in 2005 with an entrance fee of £3 per adult; and in Wales the Red Kite Feeding Centre alone attracted 33,350 visitors in 2004 at a charge of £2.50 per adult (Campbell et al., 2007). Examples from Europe show that beavers are also an attraction for wildlife watchers. Beavers were introduced to the Klosterheden Forest in Denmark in 1999 and organised tours to see beavers are now catering for over 2000 people per year. A dynamic marketing project based on a palatable combination of “Beavers, Beer and Castles” in the Belgian Ardennes following the reintroduction of beavers to Belgium in the late 1990s has resulted in beaver-watching holidays being advertised worldwide. These tours are organised for visitors by dedicated beaver guides and similar opportunities have been developed in Poland where beavers play a significant role in wildlife tourism.
In the Breton Village of Brennilis beavers were reintroduced as an economic asset to boost the prospects of tourism in a region where both industry and agriculture were in decline. Guided walks are organised from the beaver museum in the high street to view adjacent dams, lodges and wetland habitats. The visitor centre in the Biesboch national park offers a wide range of beaver related merchandise to visitors who come to view beavers in the evenings on electric boat trips. One significant advantage that beavers offer to local economies is that they are most active during dawn and dusk. This results in visitors tending to make overnight stays in an area to see them, which is valuable to local hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and shops. Further earning potential could be developed from guiding tours, transport, retail and crafts.
Campbell, R., Dutton, A., Hughes, J. 2007. Economic Impacts of the beaver. Oxford, University of Oxford, p. 24.