Why Are Beavers Good For The Environment?


Beavers are seen as a nuisance by many, but they are great for the environment. In this article, I wanted to explore why they are great and to give you some tips on how to protect trees in your area.

Beavers are essential in establishing and maintaining wetlands, and providing new habitats for other plants, animals and insects.

The history of the fur trade, along with other human activities, almost made beavers themselves a page in history.

Soon after the governments took action against the fur trade on beavers, along with deforestation, the population for beavers is booming. 

In North America alone, there were up to 400 million beavers.  The number now stands somewhere between 6 and 12 million.

Couple of beaver eating away a tree

The return of beavers has several benefits to the environment.  Their influence can be seen in development, tourism, agriculture, and the general health of the environment and ecosystem. 

However, humans are still in conflict with beavers.  The cost of developing buildings on floodplains causes clashes between humans and beavers.  

Here are a few reasons why beavers are essential for a healthy ecosystem and environment. 

If you or someone you know loves beavers then have a look at my favorite beaver gifts on Amazon.

Establishing and Maintaining Wetlands

Beavers contribute significantly to creating and preserving wetlands. This is the main reason why they are specifically crucial to the environment.

Beavers build dams across waterways. The dams enhance the environment in several ways.

The dams provide habitat to plants and other sensitive animal species.  

Beaver dams also improve water quality, eventually slowing down the flow of waters, which in turn controls floods. 

Learning and Knowledge

Another reason why we need beavers in North America is we can learn from them.

Students and children can quickly learn about how ecosystems work through beaver dams and beaver colonies. 

They can learn about their local ecosystems, at the same time enjoying them through observations and photography. 

This is an essential reason why governments should extend public education to these areas, especially where beavers live in large numbers.

Beaver Ponds

Beaver ponds are among the most biologically productive ecosystems

Beaver ponds increase plants, birds, and wildlife varieties in the area. Beaver ponds also improve the quality of water, increase populations of fish such as trout, and provide conducive habitats for salmon to spawn. 

By gnawing and cutting through trees, beavers open up tree canopies.  These gaps in the tree canopies allow light to penetrate deep into the water below. 

The increase of light, in turn, triggers improvement in biological activities in the water. 

Aquatic plants and algae soon start to grow with the increase of sunlight.  

The algae and the aquatic plants help to support other small new animals and plants.  Plants and other aquatic organisms will become food for a larger group of animals, including birds, fish, and mammals. 

Beaver Ponds Create Habitats For Other Animals

To make a dam, beavers have to gnaw and chew through trees.  The dams are made up of lots of these trees.  

Beaver dams are very beneficial as they are likely to offer a habitat for different animal species. 

Grasses, bushes, sedges, and saplings grow on the perimeter of the pond. 

These plants can provide food for many types of animals. These plants are also beneficial in providing cover for these animals to use as shelter.

Beavers are great for the environment. For more information I have written an article which you can find here.

Improving The Flow Of Water  

The increased quality of the water can benefit other animal species.  These animals include wood ducks, otters, and mink. 

Fish as well get increased freshwater to help with their survival.  Some species of fish such as steelhead, salmon, and rainbow smelt will find a better place for their survival around beaver dams. 

Another benefit is that beaver dams will recharge the water we drink. 

The dams stabilize the water table, maintaining the streamflow, especially during a drought. 

This is the reason why many jurisdictions are considering relocating beavers to the west of the country to improve arid lands. 

Problems Between Beavers and Humans 

Beavers are regarded by many as pests, but there are no other single species of animals that can benefit wetlands as they do. 

There exists an ongoing conflict between beavers and humans.  Beavers will find habitats in areas that are currently occupied by humans. 

Humans and beavers are united against two common threats, floods and deforestation.

Tree Damage

One of the significant problems that exist between humans and beavers is the amount of damage done to trees. 

Reducing trees due to deforestation and a lack of consistency in tree planting is causing problems.  These problems not only extend to beavers but also other animals. 

Beavers, for their part, destroy trees and plants, which results in a massive conflict between people and these animals. 

Beavers destroy trees whenever they come across them.  Beavers will damage trees in urban and suburban areas. 

If there is not a solution to this problem, then there are chances that this will become a critical issue, which can affect the life of the beavers significantly. 

The consequence of the invasion of beavers. The beavers chewed the tree trunk.

Flooding

Flooding is also an issue facing humans from beaver colonies. 

Flooding can be a real problem after there are heavy rains or snow.  The extra water enters the rivers causing major blockages due to the beavers dams.

Ever wondered if beavers can see in the dark? You can find out in this article I have written here.

How To Stop Beavers Chewing Through Trees

Trunk Guards

Protecting your trees from beavers is going to take a little bit of work, but can be done easily and cheaply.

Trunk guards can be placed around the trunk of the trees.  The trunk guards should be installed up to three feet high from the ground, and made of galvanized welded wire. 

These materials can be found in your local hardware or home improvement stores, and are usually sold as fencing. 

I am not a fan of chicken wire because it is very light and too flimsy to provide the needed protection. 

Paint

Other ways we can protect the trees is by painting the trunks, and the use of sand. 

There are some findings from USDA that proves that painting the base of the tree with a mixture of sand and paint can help to protect them. 

The mixture of paint and sand is great for deterring beavers from gnawing through trees.  

To make sure that you cannot notice the paint on the trees, you can use a color that blends well with the trees.  This will stop the beavers chewing through your trees, without everyone asking you why you have painted your trees.

Fencing

Beavers are not good climbers, so a small amount of fencing can help keep them away from your trees.  

The fence will need to be about four feet high.  A fence of this height will greatly inconvenience the beaver, making them give up.  Even after fencing the tree, however, you should always keep checking to make sure that the fence is still intact.  Beavers can, with time, try to push under the fence.

Electrified Wire

You can opt for electrified wire, which can deter beavers from getting to an area.

The electrified wire can be effective in small spaces, such as a loved tree, or even used to protect a crop plot.  The electrified wire will adequately protect the crops. 

Deterrent

The traditional historical methods required the use of explosives or heavy machinery to destroy beaver dams.  However, today, there are better methods.

Using machinery or explosives to destroy a dam does work. However, there are chances that the beaver will build another one quickly.

Today, experts use deterrents to stop beavers building dams.  Many deterrents can be used, with experts trying to take advantage of the beaver’s natural behavior.  

The design and the installation of a beaver deterrent can be very complicated. For this reason, please seek the services of an expert.

Most people will only know about the presence of beavers when they are a nuisance. 

The methods above will hopefully help you to keep beavers around, without them being a nuisance.

Did you know that many people have beavers as pets? I looked into this and have written this article here.

If you or someone you know loves beavers then have a look at my favorite beaver gifts on Amazon.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

Recent Content