A coalition of over 20 of Scotland’s environmental NGOs has written to environment minister Dr Aileen McLeod, calling for the beaver to be fully reintroduced to the country.
They want the animals recognised by the Scottish Government as a resident, native species.
The groups have also welcomed the recent publication of a Scottish Natural Heritage report on the future of beavers in Scotland.
Trial reintroductions are taking place in mid-Argyll and there is a population established in Tayside.
The Scottish Government will decide this year on the future of the populations and whether any more should be released.
There is a very strong case for seeing the return of free-living beavers to Scotland as soon as possible
Combined, the membership of the groups represent more than a quarter of a million people.
They say that a positive outcome for beavers will help ensure that Scotland continues to position itself at the forefront of conservation.
The collective see beavers as a missing element in Scottish biodiversity, believing there is both an ecological and moral imperative to restore this keystone species to benefit Scotland’s depleted freshwater ecosystems.
The group also believe that the majority of Scotland’s people are ready and willing to live alongside beavers once again and that this strengthens Scotland’s reputation as a modern society that truly values its environment.
Further, they point out that there is suitable natural habitat for the animals, which will provide tangible and significant ecological benefits for a wide range of other species through the habitats and ecological niches they create, allowing other species to flourish.
Beaver activity will have a net positive environmental and socio-economic effect on Scotland’s human population and prosperity by providing multiple public benefits such as ecosystem services, including improved water quality, reduced downstream flooding, and increased eco-tourism, the groups say.
Lindsay Mackinlay, nature conservation adviser at the National Trust for Scotland, said: “Wild beavers used to live in Scotland not that long ago. Indeed, we have individual trees growing by our sides now that were present when the last beavers lived in our rivers.
"The National Trust for Scotland believe there is a very strong case for seeing the return of free-living beavers to Scotland as soon as possible. This decision has not been made hastily but has been reached after weighing up the scientific evidence and experiences from other countries."
Alan Carter, director of Reforesting Scotland, added: "In river catchments managed by beavers, fish stocks are higher, biodiversity is increased, flood peaks are reduced and pollution is filtered out. These are things that society spends millions on, but beavers do them for free.”
The conservation coalition is made up of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group, Borders Forest Trust, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Froglife, Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance, Highland Foundation for Wildlife, John Muir Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Plantlife Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, Reforesting Scotland, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Scottish Badgers, Scottish Raptor Study Group, Scottish Wild Beaver Group, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Trees for Life, Woodland Trust and WWF Scotland.