Beavers can be quite controversial animals in the natural world; personally I admire them for their incredible engineering skills.
About 400 years ago, beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK but they are being re-introduced (with caution) in the hope that they will help restore our wetlands to their natural state and also reduce the impact of flooding.
Forestry England has produced this video showing why beavers build dams. Their teeth are really quite something (the beavers, not Forestry England.)
Now, a number of the UK's Wildlife Trusts have beaver appeals and they are Dorset, Derbyshire, Devon, Cheshire, Cornwall and Kent.
The Wildlife Trust's website describe beavers as the engineers of the animal world and looking at the video above, it's easy to see why.
To support the Wildlife Trust's conservation efforts, you could Adopt a Beaver either for yourself or as a gift for a nature lover! You could also buy them this Give a Dam t-shirt:
This t-shirt is made from 100% organic cotton and it's printed in the UK in a renewable energy powered factory. £19.00 Find out more about it
Of course you should also take a look at the Beaver Trust. I hope they won't mind me quoting their very exciting mission which is:
"to recover Britain’s waterways and landscapes through the rapid and widespread re-establishment of beaver wetlands across whole river catchments."
Their belief is that beavers are a practical, low-cost solution for long-term restoration. They can help revesse the trend of extinction of British wildlife. You can see from their map where beavers are in the UK.
Furthermore, the Beaver Trust reports that in the US West, land managers and scientists hare using beaver dam analogs to do three things:
Back in 1971 on 2 February, the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar which sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea
Today, the 2nd February is a really important day for people and wildlife, because it’s a chance to highlight how important wetlands are to us all. They are where land meets sea. The 2nd February is World Wetlands Day.
This year, the theme is “Wetlands and Water”.
Where are wetlands?
Wetlands cover areas such as shores, estuaries, mudflats, floodplains, coastal marshes, local ponds, the bog and pond in your garden, mangrove swamps, seagrass beds, and rivers. They cover a very small of the earth’s surface – and yet they are one of the most important habitats on our planet.
"If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then wetlands are the lifeblood. As much as we need air to breathe, we need water to live. The conservation of our wetlands is essential to all life on earth.” WWT
Why wetlands matter to people:
They provide us with drinking water
They store a third of the world’s carbon emissions
They buffer us from floods and droughts
They are important for our health and wellbeing
Why do wetlands matter to wildlife?
40% of all plant and animal species live or breed here.
Sundarbans National Park (India) is formed of tidal rivers, creeks and canals and supports species such as the single largest population of tiger, and aquatic mammals such as the Irrawaddy and Ganges River dolphins, all under threat.
So what’s happening to wetlands in our changing world?
A recent global IPBES assessment identified wetlands as the most threatened ecosystem. This impacts 40% of the world’s plant and animal species that live or breed in wetlands.
Our wetlands are threatened by:
Beavering away to address these problems are organisations such as the World Heritage Centre. An example of its work is the Okavango Delta which has incredible biodiversity but is threatened thanks to development pressure. It’s home to indigenous peoples and wildlife such as the cheetah, white rhinos, black rhinos, lion and the African wild dog. In 2019, the State Parties of Namibia, Botswana and Angola agreed a roadmap to explore the boundary extension of the World Heritage Site here to protect the river basin and the unique wetland system.
In the UK, there’s the WWT –Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust but of course its work extends well beyond the UK.
WWT say that:
Between 1970 and 2014, populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptile species declined by a dreadful 60%
In the last 400 years, England has lost 90% of her wetlands
30% of known fish species, many at risk amphibians and reptiles, migratory and resident water birds,, and thousands of plant species life here.
However, the WWT is working hard to create, protect and restore – it believes we can reverse the decline and bring wetlands back to life. Its conservation projects strengthen the link between wetlands, wildlife and people, both in the UK and further afield. Find out more about their plans for 2020
So what can we all do to help wetland conservation?
WWT can create new wetlands in a few months and years – so your support can really make a difference quickly. But there’s something we can all do to help and you’ll find more links and further resources further down.
Create a pond in your garden, local area or school
Visit a wetland close to you and spend time there. Use your senses while you visit. Listen to the sounds you can hear; look at the sights, smell the scents.
Support the conservation work of your local wetlands charity
Volunteer for local wetland charities
Donate to wetland charities – look out for their appeals
World Wetland Network – a collection of NGOs and Civil Society Groups all working for wetland conservation
Wetland Link International – a support network for wetland education centres which deliver engagement activities on site. The WWT in the UK lead it; it has 350 members over 6 continents!
RAMSAR – The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
World Wetlands Day – held every year on 2 February to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands and how we can all help
WWT protects wetlands and wildlife. They have a number of centres around the UK which in non-Covid-19 times you can visit. As WWT says, if rainforest are the lungs of the planet, then wetlands are the lifeblood. We all need wetlands to keep our water clean and to help protect against flooding, drought and pollution. They are home to many different species and in the UK, they are home to 10% of all our species. So they matter to people and animals.
EMERGENCY APPEAL: WWT have launched an urgent appeal to help them continue their conservation work - like so many charities, their income has been badly affected by Covid-19. You can donate here.
Among the UK's WWT centres, one is based in London. And a very Happy Anniversary to WWT London who celebrated 20 years on 26 May 2020!
The WWT has brought the countryside to London and the London Wetland Centre gives amazing peace and quiet to both wildlife and people.
The centre records 180 species of bird each year, including stunning kingfishers, sand martins, wading birds, though the times of the year vary, of course.
The centre is currently closed due to the coronavirus, but please take a few minutes to watch this film and enjoy.