The beaver population in The Netherlands’ is thriving, but a little too well, as the beaver population is expected to grow from 700 to 7,000 by 2032. A group of experts is warning that this could actually threaten the stability of the Netherlands’ sea defenses.
The Mammal Society has brought together other wildlife groups to work out how to protect the Netherlands’ important water-blocking dykes from the potentially destructive semi-aquatic rodents without infringing on the beavers’ natural development in the ecosystem.
Beavers play an very important ecological role in the Netherlands and they increase biodiversity. In forests, they gnaw through trees, creating space for other species to survive; in water they build dams, which allow insects and plants to thrive.
The Netherlands’ famous dykes protect the land from being flooded. Without these sea defenses huge swathes of the country would be underwater, and in areas where the dykes are directly connected to the water, the beavers are starting to burrow through the ground.
Vilmar Dijkstra has been hosting a symposium on related topics and said this about some of the protective methods available.
“People can put down mesh grids underwater to stop the beavers from being able to get to the dyke, or use stones to protect them. It is only really a problem when the slope from the dyke is going steeply down into the water. That is when the beavers will like to burrow, because it is in their nature.”
Mr Dijkstra says he is asking all the regional representatives one crucial question:
“Are you beaver ready?”