Orange-toothed rodents back in the big city.

Could beavers solve climate change? London has launched a scheme to bring “nature’s engineers” back after 400 years to restore habitats.

The beavers are back. It has been a while — more than 400 years! But the rodents are once again set to be roaming the rivers and wetlands of west London.

In the UK, beavers were hunted to extinction in the 1500s for their fur, meat and the oil they produce. Now, a scheme in Ealing, London, is set to create a habitat for beavers, in the hope that the species will thrive once again.

Beavers reengineer the waterways they live in, building dams, lodges and ponds. These structures often clean the water by slowing its flow for a bit, causing sediment to fall to the bottom.

This cleaner water attracts more animals to the area. So beavers can repair habitats. Beavers’ dams and ponds can also store water, helping to reduce floods.

Just as crucially, this stored water would help keep the wetlands wet during a drought. As climate change makes both flooding and droughts more likely, beavers seem like a good bet to help save the environment.

The scheme is part of a bigger effort to rewild areas of London. An earlier attempt to reintroduce a pair of beavers in North London failed, when the male, named Justin Beaver, died before they could breed.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, described the rewilding scheme as a chance to “make amends” for the “harm inflicted on the natural world”.