It’s Earth Day 2022! Whilst environmental consciousness shouldn’t be confined to one day, it is a good chance to highlight projects that are doing the work all year round. We wanted to highlight a podcast focusing on a underestimated creature when it comes to our environment. The Lodge Cast is a show from The Beaver Trust, a charity dedicated to… beavers!
The Lodge Cast not only gives us a great insight to these animals, it also explores how to combat the threats of climate change, reduce the risk of flooding, and increase biodiversity in the UK. We spoke to hosts, Eva Bishop and Sophie Pavelle, about why beavers are so important, and how The Lodge Cast came about…
The Lodge Cast may initially seem quite niche, but you go “beyond beavers” – can you tell us a little about your podcast?
The Lodge Cast is a fun twist on exploring the serious matter of how we regain a healthier state of nature in the UK, how we cope with and adapt to climate breakdown and the role people and beavers can play as we urgently drive to restore our landscapes. For Beaver Trust, beavers have always been more than just a flagship species, they are a unique teacher of ecology, a totem for systemic change and a valiant symbol of hope.
This interview is going out on Earth day and you describe the beavers as an ‘ally’ in climate change. Why is that?
Beavers have been described as a hydrological and ecological swiss army knife (kudos Ben Goldfarb); they and their wetlands directly help tackle flood, drought, water quality, carbon sequestration, biodiversity loss and eco anxiety. Just a few of the things we are seriously up against as climate breakdown intensifies. So we want to welcome beavers back, live alongside them again and let them build some resilience back into our rivers, for wildlife and us. The ecological, let alone financial implications of beaver reintroduction is urgent and compelling.
You start the episodes with some beaver facts, all of which are absolutely fascinating – can you give our readers a taste by telling us your favourite thing about beavers?
Eva: Extremely hard to choose, but the thing that leaves me most in awe of these fluffy climate rebels is the wake of life that blossoms in their presence. You introduce a beaver to a stream, and weeks/months later it’ll be BUZZING with life. Nothing else, not even we, can do that with such efficiency and effectiveness.
Sophie: Ah, man! Where to start?! I keep on returning to the fact that there is just no other animal quite like the beaver. They are the true definition of a ‘keystone species’ – exerting an astonishingly disproportionate impact on an environment relative to their size and numbers. They keep us on our toes, challenge our thinking and offer hope for nature’s resilience like nothing else. I cannot get enough of them.
Why did you decide to start podcasting in the first place?
We felt the one thing missing from the wealth of wildlife and environment podcasts is a healthy dose of beaver.
Seriously though, one of our main objectives at Beaver Trust is to bring beavers back into mainstream consciousness as one of our native species – to learn to live alongside them again. Releasing a podcast allows us to talk about it with experts in the field and bring real life, bring solutions, have the difficult conversations and not be afraid of where they take us. A fun-but-real podcast seemed a good place to reach new audiences with this message of hope for restoration and make everyone feel a part of the solution.
It seems beavers are pretty overlooked as a significant part of reversing the environmental damage in the UK. Which episode would you direct our readers to as an entry point to give them an idea of how important beavers are?
Emily Fairfax – Fighting Fire with Beavers – Emily is a globally leading beaver expert, scientist and communicator. She studies the wildfire resilience effects of beaver wetlands and listening to that episode would give a good flavour of the benefits beavers can offer.
Are there any podcasts you take inspiration from?
Sophie: I have a real mix of comedy and then long-form podcasts in my library. During lockdown I really enjoyed ‘Feel Better, Live More’ with Rangan Chatterjee, as he really gets under the skin of his fascinating guests, and isn’t afraid to explore really deep and difficult topics. I feel he really gets the best out of his guests and that’s something we’re really keen on doing in The Lodge Cast.
Eva: I enjoy the Accidental Gods podcast, for its fearlessness in conversation, and For What It’s Earth for is fun exploration of environmental topics.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far as a podcaster?
Eva: Quit the script! When we’re having fun exploring a subject, it’s going to be top listening for our audience.
Sophie: I completely agree with Eva – the best conversations are when we just have a couple topics to hit and then feel confident enough to go off-piste with the guests.
Where can we see beavers ourselves?
On Beaver Trust’s website we have a map showing where beavers are around the UK – although it needs regular updating as their reintroduction progresses! We hope in the future they’ll be a natural part of the landscape and found on many watercourses across Britain. For now, though, there are a few places like the River Otter in Devon, Knapdale in Scotland or the River Avon near Bath where wild beavers can be seen. Many are still in licensed enclosures and not all of these are open to the public. And of course our colleague Chris Jones will always welcome interested parties to the Cornwall Beaver Project near Truro.
And where can the Pod Bible readers find out more about you?
You can keep up to date with the latest news on beavers, policy and their reintroduction via our website, and sign up to our quarterly, free, newsletter: beavertrust.org. For more regular beaver fun, facts and action, do follow us across all social media platforms: @beavertrust and subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch our award-winning documentary Beavers Without Borders and await the April release of our next documentary On The Edge.
Eva: Come say hi on Twitter: @evabishop