The Environment Engineers
by Amy Lignor
From the title of this article, you may think that this is all about conservation, organizations that promote and work on creating healthy habitats, or even companies promoting a greener, healthier planet. However, the real environment engineers we speak of are actually four-footed creatures whose mission it is to better nature’s ecosystem.
Not as mystical as, say, the wolf. Not as talked about as the Black Rhino or the long list of other species that are endangered and moving closer and closer to extinction. No, this little guy is sometimes forgotten about completely; yet, without them, the environment would be in far worse shape than it is already.
The beaver has a myriad of skills they’re born with that allow them to always be successful on their nature missions. It is no surprise that the term for an active person who gets things done is: “As busy as a beaver,” when you think about the amount of work these creatures do. Felling trees, changing waterways, building dams – the beaver not only does this to benefit themselves, mind you, but also to benefit other species…including humans.
Think about this: Dams help control both the quality and quantity of water both animals and humans utilize. The ponds, streams, and flooded areas they create are actually vibrant habitats that serve more plants and animals than you can shake a stick at. A variety of fish, insects, and birds benefit from the healthy world the beaver creates. And it is a fact that some animals choose to only live close by the beaver’s habitat.
However…like many animals the beaver has seen a horrendous drop in numbers over the centuries. Once upon a time in North America beavers could be found in almost every pond or stream you looked at. The statistics for the population were once out of this world, with some studies even stating that there may have been over 100 million+ of the creatures at one time. But during the early 20th century the beaver was suddenly looked at for their fur and not the part they played in a healthy environment. Thus, trapping became monumental and almost lent to the beaver’s complete extinction. Over time, as people grew wiser to the issues, reintroductions of the animal into various habitats brought the number back up to approximately 12 million. Big number, yes, but certainly not when you take the past into account.
For those who don’t understand the gift the beaver gives to nature, or know the animal that well, it’s easy to see why a great many people don’t see the positives when it comes to their work. They are incredibly beneficial to the land, and can halt the rapid approach of climate change. Can they stop it completely? No. But they can lend aid when it comes to areas where snow is melting far more rapidly than it once was, lending to droughts that last longer. Warming temperatures bring more rain than snow. And when the snow does fall, because of the early melt, the once gradual release of water has turned into an avalanche. Take the state of Utah, for example. Snow melt this past year happened almost 45 days earlier than the historical average, causing year-round streams to dry up, and harming fish and plant-life.
Beaver restoration and relocation efforts are occurring all over the country and have increased within the last five years. When the families once again begin to thrive, they build a dam and create a perfect habitat for all those other creatures in the ecosystem that rely on the beaver for help.
So take the time to “meet” and learn about this “busy” engineer. You’ll realize that without the beaver, global warming, climate change, and all the other negatives Washington, D.C. can’t seem to get a handle on will grow even worse…even faster.
Source: Baret News