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Ecosystem Services Provided by Beavers
Humans require certain ecosystem products, such as clean air, water, and food, in order to survive. Ecosystem services produced by beaver activity include water puriﬁcation, moderation of extreme events (such as wildfires or droughts), habitat and biodiversity provision, nutrient cycling, greenhouse gas sequestration, recreational hunting and ﬁshing, water supply, and recreation. Researchers are just beginning to analyse and quantify the ecosystem services that beavers provide.
A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Helsinki found that beavers provide services worth $1.6 (recreational hunting and ﬁshing services) to as much as $133 million (habitat and biodiversity services) to humans through the various ways in which they modify the environment. The study found that habitat and biodiversity, non-consumptive recreation, and moderation of extreme events are particularly valuable beaver-provided ecosystems services.
When you take into account the estimated beaver range in Northern Hemisphere, beavers have the capacity to provide upwards of half a billion dollars of value in ecosystem services per year. And they work for free!
Thinking in monetary terms should motivate policymakers, stakeholders, and the public to support beaver restoration efforts and healthy populations. Understanding the value of these services could help the public and policymakers understand the outsized benefits of these small, flat-tailed mammals.
Source: Environmental Benefits of Beavers, King County, Washington.
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