Scientists in Utah and California, United States, have discovered the key role beavers play in the fight against climate change as the dams they build help fend off drought and wildfires.
Beaver dams help store water for longer periods of time, thus building new ponds and wetlands, boosting the environment’s moisture levels, and creating fire breaks. They can also reduce the water temperature by up to 2 degrees Celsius, and the water level up by 30 cm.
“Beavers move in here and they slow this water down,” explains California State University professor, Emily Fairfax. “That water storage is so critical during the drier periods, because that’s what can keep the ecosystem resilient to droughts and fires.”
In areas where beavers are considered pests, teams of scientists trap the rodents, evaluate them, chip them for tracking purposes, and release them in environments prone to droughts and wildfires they hopefully will colonize. In two years, 14 new dams appeared, creating positive change in the Pacific Northwest.