International Beaver Day is a modern celebration. It started in 2008 when the group Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife decided that such a day would be useful to raise public awareness of the beaver. The aim of this process was to emphasize needs protect this species due to habitat loss.
Beaver is native species in North America and Eurasia and it is the second largest rodents worldwide. As a shy species, many people aren’t aware of its importance and benefit to the overall health of the environment and ecosystems where it lives.
History of beaver in Europe
In the past centuries the beaver was widespread in Europe. It was hunted across its range for its fur and for its musk scented secretions, called castoreum. Beaver hats become an important fashion in Europe and that significantly contributed to bring beaver to the edge of extinction. Due to uncontrolled hunting, beaver extinct in many parts of Europe.
At the turn of the 20th century, only about 1,200 beavers survived in eight relict populations in Europe and Asia. Since then, it has been reintroduced to much of its former range, and now occurs from Spain, Central Europe, Great Britain and Scandinavia to a few regions in China and Mongolia.
Beaver as a national symbol
International Beaver Day aims to raise awareness about the difficult life of the beaver. The beaver is known for cutting down trees, but few people know that they use every piece of the tree they cut down. It eats the buds, bark and leaves, and then gnaws away at the branches and trunk, breaking it into smaller pieces, from which it builds dams. These are useful in flood and drought prevention, wetland restoration and water purification.
Because of the benefits it provides, the beaver became the national symbol of Canada in 1975 and symbolizes Canada’s sovereignty. The beaver thus has official status as a symbol of the country.
Beaver is the largest European rodent and a key species of wetland habitats. Its life is inseparably linked with freshwater. With its engineered structures involving felled trees, beaver huts and dams, it can re-construct and enrich aquatic ecosystems. These activities ensure favourable conditions for various number of organisms.
Beaver like a real ecosystem engineer creates and reconstructs wetlands, block side watercourse channels and increases flow variability. By doing so, it mitigates the effects of climate change (droughts, floods), reduces amount of greenhouse gases and contributes to cleaner surface and underground waters.
Beavers build dams all days long. It’s their way of life. In this way, they have a very significant impact on the surrounding environment. We can say that they are literally transforming it. Where a few years ago the river flowed smoothly through the forest, today there are extensive swamps blocked by numerous beaver dams and castles.
Their activities are very useful especially in the prevention of floods and droughts, in the restoration of wetlands. We can say that in a way they are the real creators of wetlands. The beaver is one of the few animals that significantly impact the surrounding environment.
Free wetlands restoration
Wetlands restoration is becoming more and more an important. It is subject of activities of various organizations dealing not only with nature protection but also with the reconstruction of damaged ecosystems. Well restored wetlands also provide sufficient drinking water.
Nowadays, there are effective, economical methods of coexistence between man and beaver. That allow them to be our allies in restoring the damaged environment. Currently, many countries spend large amounts of money on the reconstruction of drained wetlands. Beavers can do much of this work for free.
International Beaver Day is a fine time to hike to a beaver pond, sit down, and just enjoy the power of the silent momentum.
Remote beaver pond is stretching just ahead of us. We sat down and enjoye the quiet solitude. No signs of life. Just silence. Time run out and our mind flies.
Then suddenly strong water slap. Just next to us. The solitary beaver dived into the water and left a thought in our mind: …this is obviously his pond.
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