Beavers – Canada’s Eco-Saviours

I’ve always respected the hard working beaver – the watershed engineer of nature – and figured that we would do better to leave them alone and appreciate their indigenous knowledge. They know better than we do the ultimate purpose of their work and the interconnectedness of it all.

Now it seems that at least the Globe and Mail agrees with me:

The beaver’s new brand: eco-saviour

Erin Anderssen

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Feb. 18, 2011 7:24PM EST
Last updated Friday, Feb. 18, 2011 11:18PM EST

Our bucktoothed icon is hard-working and monogamous, steadfast and stable in the Canuck way. But beloved? Not when one drops a tree on your cottage or floods your land with its dam. These days, however, the beaver has a new brand: eco-saviour. An increasingly vocal group of scientists and conservationists believes the dam-building rodent is an overlooked tool to mitigate climate change – a natural remedy for our sick rivers and ravaged wildlife. Fly away with that, bald eagle.

Engineers with tails

It’s the beaver’s avid dam-building that makes it a star with conservationists. In 2002, when University of Alberta biologist Glynnis Hood was in the middle of getting her PhD, the Prairies experienced the worst drought on record. She watched the wetland dry up “right before her eyes.” But where beaver dams existed, the pond water remained. Poring through 54 years of historic aerial photos, records of beaver populations and climate data, she discovered that the ponds with active beaver lodges had nine times more water during droughts than ponds without dams. In dry summers, the beavers kept water from trickling out and built channels to guide the water in; they had more impact than any rainfall or drought.  …Read More