How Scientists Are Using Beavers to Help Fight Climate Change

How Scientists Are Using Beavers to Help Fight Climate Change



Researchers in California and Utah have found that dams made by beavers can help create drought and fire-resistant landscapes. With nearly half of the country experiencing drought, it’s time we take a look at these magnificent creatures and how the largest rodent in North America may be able to help us.

According to research by California State University professor Emily Fairfax, the dams that beavers make out of sticks and mud help prevent rainfall and snowmelt from draining down rivers into oceans. The dams also help prevent natural fire outbreaks and can create a reservoir that can store water for years. The dams slowly release water into the land, which creates a fire and drought-resistant landscape.

“Beavers move in here and they slow this water down,” Fairfax told CBS News. “It goes into recharging the groundwater and that’s what we’re pumping for irrigation. That’s what we use for our food. That’s what we use for our lawns.”

“A lot of the water in California is not from snowmelt. It’s from the groundwater and these beavers are recharging it for us,” Fairfax said. “They are sort of depositing water into the bank that we take out at a later date.”

Unfortunately, many people do not realize just how helpful these rodents are. This news comes just weeks after a South Carolina county encouraged citizens to kill beavers and bring in their front paws for compensation.

Scientists from Utah State University have been taking beavers from places where they are considered ‘pests’ and taking them back to the lab, where they are weighed, assessed, and implanted with chips for tracking and research purposes. The beavers are then taken into an area that is prone to droughts and fires in hopes they will create colonies in these areas.

The researchers are building starter dams which are also called beaver dam analogs. These will help the beavers get a head start in the area. Over 1,000 analog dams have already been completed, and they hope to do many more.

This article by Hailey Kanowsky was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 4 September 2022. Lead Image Source : P Harstela/Shutterstock.


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