Divers help monitor the Devon Wildlife Trust Beaver Project

January 12, 2012

It’s always exciting to be able to report involvement in projects that are at the forefront of research and the Devon Wildlife Trust Beaver Project is one such example. Beavers are a vital missing link in the UK’s ecosystem and our wetland environments are suffering from a loss of beaver activity.  In fact England is one of the few remaining countries not to reintroduce beavers.

The Devon project is an experimental, fact-finding mission because beavers, large, semi-aquatic rodents known for building dams, canals, and lodges (homes) and their harvesting of trees and flooding of waterways, can interfere with other land uses. And in England we know only too well that land is a precious commodity.

Even in North American where the beaver population was once more than 60 million, it has now fallen to 6–12 million because of extensive hunting for fur, for glands used as medicine and perfume.

For hundreds of years beavers have kept in waterways healthy and in good repair, although when you see all the downed trees might think that the beavers were doing just the opposite! The beaver is a keystone species in an ecosystem because they create wetlands that are used by many other species.  So, other than us humans, beavers appear to do more to shape the landscape than any other species.

The beaver project in Devon hopes to establish that beavers will greatly enhance the wetland value of the site so they are being used as a conservation management tool and will be removed once the project is complete.

At the same time the Devon team will be measuring the impact the beavers have on the hydrology, biology and water chemistry of the site – and this is where we come in. We have a network of Diver Level Loggers monitoring surface and groundwater levels to see the impact of the beavers over the period of the experiement. At the end of the project the results will be fed into the England Beaver Reintroduction Forum.

For more information or any questions regarding Divers call John Bolton on 07767 412 485 or email john.bolton@vanwalt.com

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