Dam-building rodents transform 'Tinderbox Britain' into network of wetlands to escape worst of the drought

Beavers have helped transform part of the scorched South West English countryside into a nourished wetland by constructing a network of dams. 

Drone footage captured by Clinton Devon Estates show how the beavers construction activities have kept an area of wetland in East Devon green and hydrated, compared to the dried up fields surrounding it.

This is despite the UK experiencing one of the hottest summers on record, with large parts of England declared to be in a state of drought, and the South West region one of the worst affected.

East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Ranger Ed Lagdon said: 'It's quite incredible to see this area, when conditions have been so challenging in recent weeks. 

'Beavers will change the environment around them and manipulate the conditions to suit them, and in this location, the beavers have used sticks and mud to create several dams which are now holding back large columes of water. 

'The water is up to two feet in some areas and is fantastic for wildlife such as birds and invertebrates.' 

However the beavers are not a perfect solution to the recent drought, as the dam-building rodents can completely submerge some areas of farmland. 

Clinton Devon Estates' Head of Agriculture, Sam Briant-Evans, said: 'We've lost about two hectares of the field as a grazing platform for our dairy herd - one hectare of this is now completely underwater. 

'The concern we have is if we move them on, they may move upstream which is closer to the main farm. It's a bit of a conundrum for us as an Estate as we can see both sides of the equation. 

'There's no clear solution. However, what this does highlight is that with the right management and by working with them, they can help in the adaption to climate change.'

From October it will become illegal to disturb, harm or kill beavers thanks to new government legislation giving legal protection to the species in England.