Making space for beavers through the establishment of riparian buffer zones around freshwater areas can provide a long-term solution to the majority of conflicts.
When analysed the majority of human-beaver conflicts arise within 20m of the waters edge. In Bavaria, over 90% of beaver conflicts occur within 10m of the water, while 95% occur within 20m. Although conflicts further away than this are possible they are rare, and usually associated with an attractive food source. Closer to home, a study of beaver impact on woodland in Scotland over a 4 year period found that the majority of beaver foraging occurred within 10m of fresh water (Iason et al, 2014).
By stepping back from the water’s edge and planting up these areas with native riparian trees or shrubs, or more cheaply, allowing natural regeneration to occur we can reinstate missing riparian habitats. Not only will this reduce the requirement for more distancing foraging for beavers and limit the impact of burrowing and canal construction but this will establish habitat for other wildlife, capture undesirable sedimentary run-off, and assist with natural flood management. This approach is already well established in many other European countries due to the widely documented environmental, economic and social benefits.
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