[This article originally appeared in The London Economic]
Our MPs have just finished their inquiry into flooding and concluded that a “proactive approach to flooding is needed”.
The report published this morning by the Environmental Audit Committee exposed the Government’s knee-jerk reaction to flooding. During the last Parliament funding was cut just before floods, only to be “increased” after the floods. The funding has fluctuated year by year.
The Committee has demanded an action plan from the Government.
Beavers should be part of that plan.
Earlier this year, just one month after floods raged through towns across the UK, a study by scientists at the University of Stirling demonstrated how Scotland’s beavers have mitigated flooding.
Beavers are famous for creating dams with ponds of deep quiet water. One of the many purposes of these dams is to slow the flow of water, to stop beaver homes being washed away. Further downstream, these networks of upstream dams work like big sponges. They provide a slower, steadier flow of water into our towns and lowlands. Our current policy of dredging does the opposite – forcefully deepening and widening riverbeds to provide a faster and at times perilous flow of water into our towns and lowlands.
The water trickling out from beaver habitat is also cleaner, with sediments retained upstream. Just last week the Environmental Audit Committee declared that more action is needed to protect UK soil health. Rewilding these semi-aquatic rodents could help prevent soil erosion.
Beavers also create a variety of habitats for fish (which as herbivores they won’t eat), mitigate dry summers, create ecotourism opportunities, boost plant life and local populations of birds, amphibians, mammals, insects and other animals. They are a win-win-win-win situation.
Header image: Sven Začek / Wikimedia Commons