An adult pair of Eurasian beavers have been released on a National Trust estate on Exmoor, writes Claire Hayhurst.

The male and female were released on the Holnicote Estate in Somerset on the morning of Thursday, January 30 to help with flood management and improve biodiversity.

Beavers became extinct on mainland Britain in the 16th century due to hunting and are now present in a handful of sites across the country.

The beavers released in Somerset have been relocated from wild populations on the River Tay catchment in Scotland, under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage.

They were let into a 2.7 hectare fenced area of unmanaged woodland on the estate in the first release by the National Trust.

Ben Eardley, project manager for the National Trust at Holnicote, said: "As ecosystem engineers the beavers will develop wetland habitat, increasing the variety and richness of wildlife in the local landscape.

"Their presence in our river catchments is a sustainable way to help make our landscape more resilient to climate change and the extremes of weather it will bring.

"The dams the beavers create will slow the flow, holding water in dry periods which will reduce the impact of drought. They will help to lessen flash-flooding downstream, reducing erosion and improving water quality by holding silt and pollutants.

Read more: Experts hail success in Devon for England's only wild beavers

Once settled in the estate, the beavers will build a lodge or burrow and begin to modify the enclosure to suit their needs.

Mark Harold, director of land and nature at the conservation charity, said: "We need to work with natural processes in the right places.

"This is a different way of managing sites for wildlife - a new approach, using a native animal as a tool.

"The development of a more natural river system; the slowing, filtering and storing of water, can develop a complex mosaic of habitats which are not only good for nature, but for people too."