Beaver Restoration Guidebook

The Beaver Restoration Guidebook, originally published in June of 2015, is a scientifically rigorous, yet accessible, practitioner’s guide that provides a synthesis of the best available science for using beaver to improve stream ecosystem function. This updated version includes a new chapter on urban beavers and additional case studies and updates throughout the guidebook

The knowledge base on this subject is rapidly evolving. If you are a restoration practitioner, land manager, landowner, restoration funder, project developer, regulator, or other interested cooperator, this guidebook is for you. 

Increasingly, restoration practitioners are using beaver to accomplish stream, wetland, and floodplain restoration. This is happening because, by constructing dams that impound water and retain sediment, beaver substantially alter the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the surrounding river ecosystem, providing benefits to plants, fish, and wildlife. The possible results are many, inclusive of: higher water tables; reconnected and expanded floodplains; more hyporheic exchange; higher summer base flows; expanded wetlands; improved water quality; greater habitat complexity; more diversity and richness in the populations of plants, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals; and overall increased complexity of the riverine ecosystems.

In many cases these effects are the very same outcomes that have been identified for river restoration projects. Thus, by creating new and more complex habitat in degraded systems, beaver dams (and their human-facilitated analogues) have the potential to help restoration practitioners achieve their objectives. Beaver have become our new partner in habitat restoration.

Yet even though the potential benefits of restoring beaver populations on the landscape are numerous, so, too, is the potential for beaver/human conflicts. These conflicts can arise from an overlap of preferred habitats by both humans and beavers, misunderstandings of how beavers modify their habitats, and a lack of planning or use of adaptive management on restoration projects. Reviewing the information provided in this guidebook will help interested parties approach beaver-based restoration from a more informed perspective, so that they can manage expectations and increase success.

Beaver Restoration Guidebook

The Beaver Restoration Guidebook

Working with Beaver to Restore Streams, Wetlands and Floodplains

Version 2.0, June 30, 2017

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