Friday, 27 October 2017 03:58

Beavers bite back as experts study their importance

Written by  Demi Knight
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Beavers bite back as experts study their importance Cows and Fish - Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society

The Miistakis Institute came together with Cows and Fish (Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society) this summer to delve into the lives of beavers and explore their necessity within watersheds.


With this inquisitive approach came the ‘Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration’ project, which works to highlight these little creatures which have remained a hot topic for quite some time now throughout the province.
The collaboration has done this by aiming to spread awareness and information on their necessity within ecosystems rather than their known stature as pests specifically within Alberta.
Through these collaborative efforts the Miistakis Institute and Cows and Fish recently held a beaver survey over the summer that was open to the everyone and hoped to gage a better understanding of the public’s knowledge of these woodland critters. The information gathered from these surveys was them used to create better management and understanding systems where beavers are involved.
 However, in Late July as the survey came to it’s close and the data was gathered, the Miistakis Institute and its collaborative partners worked with the Government of Alberta's Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program and the Calgary foundation are going to bring their findings and news of these creature’s importance to the public with their Symposium taking place on Dec 7.    
“To date, the collaboration of ‘Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration’ has focused its efforts on generating awareness about the role of beavers as ecosystem engineers and promoting coexistence through the demonstration and implementation of various coexistence tools,” says research assistant with the Miistakis Institute, Holly Kinas on what this beaver project has hoped to achieve thus far.
“Through this work, we have identified the need to bring stakeholders together to reflect on and highlight some of the great work that has been on-going within the field of beaver coexistence in Alberta and surrounding regions,” added Kinas on why the Symposium is being held this coming December.
After 639 people got involved with the project by taking the survey, the growing interest of these often-controversial creatures gave the project a perfect platform to bring together members of the public and spread the news of how beavers can be so pivotal to watershed health when managed properly.
“Beavers keep water on the landscape, leading to landscape stability and resiliency which benefits ecosystems, land owners and land managers… Beavers are becoming increasingly valued for their role in watershed health including, but not limited to, improved water storage, stream temperature moderation, reduced stream velocities, and habitat creation,” says Kinas.
However, highlighting beavers roles as ecosystem engineers is not something that only the  Miistakis and the Cows and Fish society have been working on.
Since the prairie province is home to so many pivotal watersheds and landowners, it’s no surprise that parallel to this project, there has been several other efforts across the province to explore these creatures and all the good they can do when properly understood says Kinas.
“There are a variety of groups, ranging from municipalities to environmental non-government organizations to land owners and researchers, who are doing important work to advance the use of beavers to realize watershed health.”
And all of these efforts will also be celebrated at the ‘Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration’ Symposium which will be held at the Cochrane Ranch house on Dec. 7 from 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
During this event, throughout the day beaver ecology, management and coexistence approaches will be explored, explained and elucidated.
Tickets for the event are $70 and can be purchased online: www.eventbrite.ca/ e/putting-beavers-to-work-for-watershed-resiliency-and-restoration-symposium-tickets 38850936196?aff=es2.
Although the targeted audience for this session revolves around landowners, government staff, and agricultural workers, the Miistakis institute encourages anyone with a desire to learn more about beavers and how to coexist with them to come out and attend this important event.

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