Positive Impacts of Beavers

Beavers mitigate the impacts of flood and droughts, which they do by storing and delivering water. Beaver dams act as speed bumps, slowing moving water, allowing it to seep into ground water during times of high and normal water levels, later releasing cool water during the hot, dry times in later summer as well as through the frozen months of the year.

During wildfires, beaver ponds can act as fire breaks and a refuge for wildlife and livestock, also aid in the post-fire recovery and restoration and experience less burning1. Beaver dams also increase the width of floodplains, reducing erosive forces, increasing the sediment deposition, improving both water quality and stream habitat complexity. The combination of beaver dams slowing water and increasing stream complexity results in dampening flood effects on downstream communities. Beavers act as natural flood and drought mitigation tools2 which have been lost due to landscape change and beaver removal resulting from conflict with people over the past 100 years in Alberta. Even when beaver dams failed during the extreme 2013 Alberta floods, they still held back water as the storm progressed3. Beavers are a nature-based solution to climate change, increasing watershed restoration and resiliency while providing additional ecosystem services such as habitat creation and aesthetic appeal.

Fact Sheets

If you are interested in ordering print copies of these resources, please visit the Cows and Fish website.

Beavers in healthy watersheds
Beavers - Did you know?!
Nature's Best Builder is Beaver
Beavers in our Landscape, November 2021 Webinar H2C
Miistakis Monday Webinars: Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration, May 25, 2020. Presenter: Holly Kinas, Miistakis Institute
Understanding Beavers as a Natural Infrastructure Solution, Monday, April, 20, 2020. Presenters: Norine Ambrose, Cows and Fish, and Holly Kinas, Miistakis Institute

For more information on the benefits of beavers, please visit the Resources page to view presentations from our beaver symposiums in 2017 and 2019.

1 Fairfax, Emily, and Andrew James Whittle. 2020. "Smokey the Beaver? Beaver Dams and Wildfire." NASA: Landsat Science. 2020. https://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/smokey-the-beaver-beaver-dams-and-wildfire

2 Hood, Glynnis A. 2011. The Beaver Manifesto. Calgary, AB: Rocky Mountain Books.

3 Westbrook, Cherie, and Angela Bedard-Haughn. 2015. "Alberta's 2013 Flood: Response of a Mountain Peatland." In Joint Assembly. Montreal, QC.