Fall 2022

Newsletter Archive


Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs) - Enhancing climate resiliency one stick at a time!

article image

The impacts of climate change highlight the need to protect and restore wetlands and riparian areas. Restoring and enhancing wetland function (increased water storage, enhanced water quality, enhanced biodiversity, improved resiliency) can be a daunting and expensive task but for beavers it's just a way of life. Earning themselves the title of keystone species, ecosystem engineer, beavers are the ultimate climate change resiliency opportunity. Beavers are a novel nature-based solution that provide a multitude of ecosystem services through their dam building and wetland enhancing activities. After much of their population was removed during the fur trade era, populations are beginning to recover in Alberta but are still a fraction of what they used to be and many of the ecosystem services they provided in the past are not being realized. We have an opportunity to help beavers restore our watersheds by enhancing coexistence with beavers through the installation of coexistence devices and elevating knowledge and by restoring degraded stream habitat by mimicking the work of beavers with the use of Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs).

In early October we gained a new respect for the hard work of beavers, installing our first BDA pilot project with partners Blood Tribe Land Management - Environmental Protection Division, and Cows and Fish - Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society. The purpose of this work is to pilot the use of BDAs as a stream restoration technique, a technique that is very new to Alberta but has been applied with much success in the U.S. Our pilot project aims to restore a degraded ephemeral stream on the Kainai Reservation, in hopes of enhancing water storage (both surface water and groundwater) and improving the health of riparian vegetation at the site. Additionally, if the site is a thriving riparian area in a few years, we hope to see beavers return and take over our BDAs, magnifying the restoration impact. If the pilot project is successful, we hope to apply this technique to other degraded streams in Alberta.

A special thanks to all the volunteers who came to help: students from Kainai High School, Elliot Fox, and Oldman Watershed Council!