Sarah Fairbrother

University of Birmingham


Rivers of the dammed: how should beavers fit and function in UK landscapes?


  • Dr Simon Dixon (University of Birmingham)
  • Dr Joshua Larsen (University of Birmingham)
  • Prof Vince Gauci (University of Birmingham)
  • Dr Stewart Clarke (National Trust)
  • Dr Annegret Larsen (Wageningen University).

PhD Summary

The beaver’s ability to create valuable wetland habitat, amongst other benefits, has led to widespread beaver reintroduction programmes across Europe and more recently in the UK.  My project will look to examine the landscape processes and changes that occur following beaver reintroductions at one or more UK release sites, with a view to building up a picture of what landscape changes we might expect to see in the UK as reintroductions continue.

Previous activity

I started my career working with endangered species of birds in Mauritius for four years, before returning to do a Masters. Following a brief role at Fauna & Flora International I joined the Civil Service as environmental policy adviser where I’ve experienced a wide range of roles from international negotiations to shaping domestic policies and legislation. I’m continuing to work part-time for Defra while I undertake my research project.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

I’ve always loved studying and I’d always been keen to do a PhD but after my Masters I was focussed on getting a job. My current role at Defra has revived my interest in domestic conversation issues, especially the ‘rewilding’ movement and reading around that reinvigorated my interest in field work and undertaking research.

Why did you choose CENTA?

I liked the interdisciplinary approach taken by CENTA studentships and that my research is being done in collaboration with the National Trust. After a long time out of academia the training elements of the CENTA studentship really appealed to me.

Future plans

As a part-time researcher I’m going to be studying for quite some time so I’ve not thought about it a great deal.  I’m not necessarily looking for a change of career but equally I’d be keen to explore any opportunities my research provides me with, be they in academia or back in the third sector.