Beavers are natural rewilders, their dams creating nature-rich wetlands that support many other species and act as a carbon sink, whilst also reducing flooding risk by holding back storm water flows.
 
Yet, while these habitat-creating, flood-preventing animals are the beating heart of healthy river and wetland environments across Europe, welcoming them back to the British countryside after 400 years of extinction has been slow.

Landscape Designers Urquhart & Hunt have chosen to make nature’s ecosystem engineers the beaver, the core of their garden at the Royal Horticultural Society 2022 Chelsea Flower Show, revealing how this keystone species is pivotal to ecosystem restoration, and showcasing how rewilding can benefit nature, climate and people.

Designed for and in collaboration with the charity Rewilding Britain with support from Project Giving Back, the garden shows a rewilding landscape in the south west of England, following the reintroduction of the beaver. Accentuating the harmonious co-existence of people and the natural world the garden portrays a landscape both restored and re-imagined.

Within the garden…

A brook flows beneath a glade of hawthorn, hazel and field maple and under a winding old West Country stone wall. Below is a pool dammed by beavers with a beavers lodge built around a large crack willow. Evidence of their food and dam supplies are scattered around. Rivulets of water trickle through the dam and spread out across a riparian meadow through rejuvenating alder trees.

“Our garden for Rewilding Britain celebrates something we really feel passionate about which is nature in balance. It is more pressing than ever for us as humans to re-connect with our own habitat, the earth, and work within the systems that hold us and give us clean air, waters, nourishment and our home. This is our moment to bring this, in all its beauty, to visitors of the show.”

Lulu Urquhart and Adam Hunt
Urquhart & Hunt’s Rewilding Britain garden reveals the key role that beavers play as ecosystem engineers. © Urquhart & Hunt.

Photo © Peter Cairns / scotlandbigpicture.com.

Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.