After discovering a family of beavers living on the banks of the River Avon in 2021, our UK chief executive embarked on a three-month mission to study these endangered animals and collect data for the Avon Wildlife Trust. Such close encounters with beavers are incredibly rare, but over the coming weeks Bevis would become increasingly familiar with the elusive mammals.
This adventure turned into inspiration for a book and Bevis published his debut wildlife memoir ‘River Journey’ this month.
So what is it like to run a bank, research beavers and write a book at the same time? We spoke to Bevis to gain a deeper insight into his journey along the river.
What do you hope people will gain from reading ‘River Journey’?
The main purpose of the book was to share the adventure and joy of searching for - and finding - these beavers, but I also hope it provides advocacy for why we need beavers back in our landscape. I was witness to the impact they were having on other wildlife; the number of birds using the structures that the beavers create to drink, the insect life, the slower waters becoming fish nurseries – you can really see the impact that they have. There’s also a story about nature and wellbeing. I think people in leadership positions, or positions of influence, need to talk more about the implicit importance of nature and that’s something I try to do from a personal perspective as well.
Can you tell us more about your connection with the beavers and what you learnt from your experience with them?
I was expecting to go out on the river once or twice to get some evidence of beavers being there and then it became something that happened over several months, trying to solve the mystery of these wild animals. I not only became a lot more physically fit, but the sense of adventure was a great source of revival. I gained such a deep sense of connection to nature being on the river at dawn or dusk. I think we can all slow down and appreciate the nature and wildlife around us and make more space for it to thrive.
What surprising things did you learn about yourself during the book-writing process?
I never intended to write a book. When I was writing reports for the Avon Wildlife Trust it really kept the time on the river alive and also kept my head on the river. In turn this rekindled my love for writing because I used to do a lot of writing when I was younger – so it really ignited and inspired the idea to write a book to raise funds to support conservation charities.
What is your hope for the future of wildlife reintroduction in the UK?
In the book I share reflections of 25 years of working and volunteering in sustainability with the hope that we start to react and treat biodiversity loss as an emergency. It’s directly related to climate change, the issues are two sides of the same coin: we need to restore the natural environment to make us more resilient to climate change but also to try to prevent it. The great hope and rallying cry of this book is that we all need to challenge more and act faster because the pace of change is far too slow.
How has this journey strengthened the Triodos Bank mission to invest in nature?
The beaver family has given me even more energy for what Triodos Bank is already doing and reaffirmed my belief that investing in nature is the single most important thing we can do to help nature’s recovery and prevent our own extinction. Even before this journey with the beavers had started, I had been a great advocate for finding business models and ways of financing nature’s recovery – we pioneered a couple of projects already such as the first bond issuance with rewilding charity Trees For Life, and the ground-breaking investment on the Wyre Catchment is the first of its kind.
You can support conservation by buying a copy of the book
‘River Journey’ by Bevis Watts is available to purchase here. All author proceeds are being donated to the Beaver Trust and Avon Wildlife Trust.