Beavers, set to be released on the Isle of Wight by 2024, may not make an appearance after all.

Officially recognised as a native species in England and a European protected species, beavers were set to be reintroduced to the Island by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust this year.

A huge project was underway and a consultation revealed widespread support for beaver reintroduction on the Isle of Wight, with 89 per cent of respondents to a trust survey stating that they felt positively about it.

While the trust is saying it "will continue to strongly and actively advocate for the return of beavers" it was recently dealt a blow by government.

A statement said the trust is "incredibly disappointed" by the government’s announcement that reintroducing wildlife species is “not a priority”. 

On October 27, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed that the government would not be prioritising reintroductions but was instead focused on increasing biodiversity through habitat restoration and reducing pressures from pollution.

The trust said it has a strong track record of working to bring back missing species – having seen otter, water vole and marsh fritillary return to their former haunts, and the white-clawed crayfish and sword-leave helleborine bounce back from the brink of local extinction.  

They said: "Every species has a role to play in the complex jigsaw of our natural world. The recent State of Nature Report revealed that one in six species is at risk of extinction in the UK.

"If we don’t urgently reverse this worrying trend of decline, our ecosystem will eventually collapse.  

"In particular, the trust has long called for – and will continue to do so – the managed wild release of beavers on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere in order to tackle the biodiversity and pollution crises, and to capitalise on the many societal benefits of wild-living beavers. 

"Beavers are a keystone species which means that they play a crucial role in how an ecosystem functions.

"By building dams, digging ditches and coppicing trees, beavers can alter their surroundings, creating large areas of wetland, slowing the flow of streams and rivers, protecting the land downriver from flooding and improving water quality. 

"These restored wetlands also provide essential habitat for a wealth of plants and other animals such as otters and water voles." 

The trust said reintroducing wild-living beavers would help achieve the government’s priorities of reducing pollution and increasing biodiversity.