The Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) has plans to reintroduce a species that hasn't been seen in the county for hundreds of years - the beaver.

Beavers were once hunted to extinction in the UK and parts of Europe, but plans are in place to bring them back to certain areas.

The DWT, which believes the reintroduction of the beaver will bring numerous benefits to the area's wildlife, has identified a site for their reintroduction.

However, the trust is appealing to the public to donate money to help meet the funding target of £20,000.

A DWT spokesman said: "After a 400-year absence Dorset Wildlife Trust plans to reintroduce this once native species in an enclosed trial.

"We want to study a pair of beavers to see the difference they make to an enclosed area and waterway. We believe we will find they; improve water quality, help reduce flooding and their presence and waterway engineering will improve the area for a host of other creatures too."

The trust describes the beaver as a 'keystone species'. It says that beaver dams can filter pollutants, helping improve the area's water quality by reducing excess nutrients including phosphates and nitrates.

Beavers are vegetarians and will not eat fish. The DWT asserts that the reintroduction could help improve the quality and diversity of habitats in the area. They have the potential to help populations of amphibians, water voles, dragonflies, birds and plants flourish.

The trust adds that beaver dams can help reduce flooding. The dams will slow the flow of water, leading to more water being stored in storms and more water being available during droughts.

The spokesman said: "We have a potential site and have secured a significant part of the total funding needed to start the project. However, we still urgently need to raise the last £20,000 to make this happen and deliver the full project.

"For every £1 that you give, £10 in match funding from grants could be released; which means that your donation, no matter how big or small, will make a considerable difference."

Anyone looking to donate to help the beaver reintroduction can do so at