The world’s best water engineers–beavers–just had their own environmental restoration conference in Maryland

It’s well documented that the world’s best water engineers are beavers. Restoring beavers to places where they are locally extinct is often the most cost-effective and resilient path to restoring water-based natural resources.

Unlike human civil engineers, who tend to create three new problems for every one they solve (as a result of working against nature—rather than with her—beavers build their homes in a way that create homes and food for many more species…in many cases, creating or restoring entire wetland ecosystems.

BeaverCON 2022 is an international conference for environmental professionals and practitioners that explores the climate resilience, biodiversity restoration and other ecosystem services provided by beavers.

It was held from June 14-16, 2022, at the Delta Hotel Baltimore Hunt Valley in Maryland. This year’s conference theme was “Building Climate Resilience: A Nature-Based Approach.” It highlighted the important connection between beavers and climate resilience.

Beaver-created wetlands boost climate resilience by increasing biodiversity, storing water that recharges groundwater while creating natural wildfire breaks, improving water quality, and reducing storm flood events.

Co-hosted by Ecotone and the Massachusetts-based Beaver Institute, BeaverCON topics included land management issues, co-existence strategies, hydrologic impact of beaver on water systems, beaver dam analog in restoration, and many more.

The Beaver Institute exists to be a catalyst for advancing beaver management and watershed restoration while providing financial assistance, technical support, scientific research, and training for mitigation professionals.

Ecotone is a Maryland-based ecological restoration company that designs and builds sustainable ecosystems to reduce erosion of stream banks, manage stormwater, conserve and restore wetlands, and restore forests.

The forty-three speakers came from Canada, Norway, England, Wales, and across the United States.

The keynote speaker was Hilary Harp Falk, President and CEO of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), the largest nonprofit conservation organization dedicated solely to preserving, protecting, and restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Harp Falk came to CBF from the National Wildlife Federation, where she was Chief Program Officer leading and integrating all national and regional programs while serving as strategic advisor to the CEO.

Although beavers have been considered a nuisance for decades—and often killed—an emerging field of research suggests beavers deliver natural benefits that, at worst, compliment the design and construction provided by restoration professional. At best, they are more sustainable, more cost-effective, and offer less disturbance.

Several presenters discussed modern tools for human-beaver conflict management such as flow devices and pond levelers. Another hot topic this year was recent research that beavers help prevent the spread of wildfires and provide refuge for wildlife during wildfires.

Beaver photo via Pixabay.

See Ecotone website.

Learn more about BeaverCON.

See Beaver Institute website.

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