Report will help Scottish Government decide whether to continue measures to reintroduce beavers
A report into Scotland’s beavers following a five-year trial will determine whether government ministers will back their reintroduction.
The Scottish Beaver Trial, the first formal reintroduction of a mammal ever to take place in the UK, has published its final report this week.
Published by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the five-year-trial at Knapdale forest Argyll is also the first reintroduction experiment of the mamals in Europe.
The Norwegian beavers were released in Knapdale in 2009 and monitoring ended in May.
Last month, Scottish Natural Heritage published six independent scientific monitoring studies.
Researchers noted the beavers changed the shape of woodland close to loch shores and increased the water level of one loch after building a dam on it.
This report records the various lessons learned by the Scottish Beaver Trial team during the course of the project - Simon Jones
The presence of the animals at Knapdale boosted visits to the area by "beaver tourists" and volunteers to the project, according to one of the reports.
The same research suggested the benefit to local businesses was "modest".
However, the report also said that shops and firms might be able to boost earnings and job opportunities if the beavers were allowed to stay on a permanent basis.
Scottish Beaver Trial project manager, Simon Jones, said: "If there are any further reintroductions of beavers to Scotland, our story will prove to be essential reading.
"Beavers have never been legally reintroduced to Scotland before, for that reason, this report records the various lessons learned by the Scottish Beaver Trial team during the course of the project."
Field operations manager, Roisin Campbell-Palmer, said the trial allowed for "ground breaking research" and "thorough monitoring".
She added: "We hope our findings will form a template for similar future reintroduction projects across the UK and beyond."
A decision by Scottish ministers is expected some time next year.