Tag Results: Eurasian Beaver


Potential psychological benefits of nature enrichment through the reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) to Britain

Biodiversity is declining in the UK, which is considered one of the most nature depleted parts of the world. The reestablishment of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) has been posited as an effective means of facilitating a restoration of biodiversity in Britain, and following successful trials, nationwide reintroduction is being considered. This literature review considers the potential psychological benefits of such an initiative. Beavers could act as a ‘super restorer’, facilitating psychological as well as ecological restoration through a beneficial synergy of effects. Through their eco-engineering activities, beavers increase biodiversity at the landscape scale and facilitate habitat restoration and creation (creating a mosaic of green and blue space, and a sense of wilderness) all of which can increase the psychological well-being of visitors. Their creation of biodiverse natural settings offers the possibility of increased nature connectedness and nature-based psychological restoration amongst some of the human population of the UK. Beaver reintroduction may represent a partial antidote to ‘shifting baseline syndrome’ and beavers could act as a flagship species and become a totem of hope as eco-anxiety increases. Beavers can potentially have negative psychological impacts, and this will require appropriate planning, management and communication among stakeholders coupled with community-led initiatives to mitigate. Overall psychological benefits of beaver reintroduction likely exceed that of any other single species’ reintroduction or conservation initiative of equivalent cost, and far outweigh the costs of their reintroduction and management.

Beyond beaver wetlands: The engineering activities of a semi-aquatic mammal mediate the species richness and abundance of terrestrial birds wintering in a temperate forest

The engineering activities of the Eurasian beaver Castor fiber have far-reaching effects on the components of an environment and therefore modify the functioning of the ecosystem. The wetlands thereby created are the most conspicuous effect of beaver activity and attract water-related species. However, there is some evidence suggesting that beavers influence not only aquatic ecosystems but also the terrestrial habitats adjacent to these wetlands and the organisms occurring there. Because the impact of beavers on terrestrial birds is still poorly understood, this study evaluates the assemblage of birds wintering on beaver sites (N = 65) and paired reference sites (N = 65) in temperate forests of central Europe. We investigated the correlations between beaver presence, parameters of wetland areas, terrestrial vegetation characteristics, distance from the water’s edge and bird species richness and abundance. We found a greater species richness and abundance of wintering birds on beaver sites than on watercourses unmodified by this ecosystem engineer (by 38% and 61%, respectively). Species richness and abundance were higher in the terrestrial habitats near the edges of beaver ponds, but for some species this tendency also held in forests growing at some distance from beaver wetlands. Greater species richness was related to beaver presence, but also increased with a more open canopy and greater forest floor diversity, whereas bird abundance was correlated only with canopy openness.