The beaver is a keystone species which means it plays a critical role in maintaining the ecosystems it is a part of. Without them, the ecosystem would break down. Beavers are known as ‘ecosystem engineers’ because they are able to create and transform a habitat.
Beavers had been extinct in the UK for around 400 years. Since 2001, they have been reintroduced to the environment, with record-breaking numbers reintroduced in the past couple of years.
Let’s explore some of the incredible benefits there are to reintroducing beavers into the right areas:
Beavers create habitats in woody, freshwater areas by building dams, digging canals and creating wetlands and ponds. This allows hundreds of diverse insect, amphibian, bird and mammal species to flourish which increases biodiversity.
Reduced flood risk
Many of the UK’s flooding events are caused by too much rain falling too quickly. The dams, canals and wetlands that beavers create hold back and slow the flow of water after heavy rain. Studies have shown that beavers reduced flooding by up to 60 per cent.
Wetlands engineered by beavers reduce the impacts of drought by 60 per cent. This is because they retain more water and slowly release it during dry periods. This keeps water flowing and soils hydrated.
Improved water quality
Beaver ponds filter out sediments and harmful chemicals. This prevents them from travelling downstream and improves water quality. Where beaver ponds are present, there have been records of 73 per cent less sediments found in the water downstream.
Combatting climate change
Wetlands have been described as the most effective carbon sinks on our planet. They regulate, capture and store harmful greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change. Reintroducing beavers creates more wetlands and thus helps to absorb excess carbon and combat climate change.
How one Action contributes to numerous Outcomes
This is just one example of how a single Action can contribute to achieving numerous Outcomes benefitting both people and planet. The OnePlanet platform helps you identify how different Actions are linked to various Outcomes to inform better decision making and build the business case for climate action.