Beaver Wetlands

By Sharon T. Brown and Suzanne Fouty

Effects Upon Wildlife and Water
A half-mile-long beaver dam in Canada made international news recently when satellite photos clearly showed the impact of Castor canadensis upon the earth. The beaver is one of the few species, besides humans, that build structures, such as the huge dam in Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park, that are large enough to be visible from space. Today, only in highly remote locations of North America is it possible for nature’s engineers to create similarly impressive alterations of the landscape. Ecologist Jean Thie found the immense Alberta dam while scanning satellite images for signs of climate change. This is fitting because restoring beaver wetlands are one of the most effective and economical ways to minimize some potential impacts of climate change on wildlife habitat and the land’s hydrology, and thus human communities.

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