The most skilled engineer of nature, the beaver, returns to the southeastern Făgăraș Mountains

By 17 November 2021 No Comments

This autumn is a historic one for the southeast of the Făgăraș Mountains, where after more than 100 years, the beaver will return home to the Dâmbovița, Argeșel and Târgului rivers, Argeș county, at the initiative of the Conservation Carpathia.

After two years of scientific and socio-economic studies and thousands of hours spent in the field, in the south of the Făgăraș Mountains, this autumn the first beaver families will return to one of the richest areas, from a natural perspective, in Romania, in an extensive programme to reintroduce this charismatic species. The plan is to reintroduce a total of 90 beavers over the next three years, throughout the implementation of the project funded by the European Commission through the LIFE Nature program (“Creating a wilderness area in southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania”, LIFE18 NAT / RO / 00108).

70 of these beavers will be captured and relocated from the Olt River, an area where they have developed a healthy and viable population, and the remaining 20 will come from the existing population on the Elbe River to ensure genetic diversity. Accordingly, these actions will be carried out annually, in spring and autumn, when it is possible to intervene with beaver families without producing imbalances in their structure.

Beavers will initially be marked with transmitters so that they can be monitored.

The relocation and monitoring process will take place with consideration for primarily the biology and ethology (behaviour) of this species,” said Liviu Ungureanu, Conservation Carpathia Beaver specialist. “In this context, the relocation periods will be in the spring and in the first two months of autumn, so as not to endanger survival in the areas where they will be relocated. The whole process will be closely monitored at all stages (capture, transport, release and subsequent monitoring). What we want is to be able to implement this project with minimal damage to this species,” continued Liviu Ungureanu.

Why introduce the beaver in the south of the Făgăraș Mountains?

Conservation Carpathia has carried out a series of studies over the last few years, both on living conditions and on the attitude of locals towards beavers. According to them, most respondents welcome the return of beavers, as was also the case regarding the return of bison in the area. Thus, the specialists of the foundation chose the best areas for the reintroduction of the beaver, places away from the communities, so that the beavers keep away from villages and people.

This true builder and landscaper has the ability to build dams and create water reserves, thereby changing the configuration and characteristics of the environment. It creates favourable environments for hydrophilic plants and contributes to the revitalization of some areas, and is a mammal beneficial for biodiversity,” said Adrian Aldea, wildlife manager Conservation Carpathia.

The beaver is nicknamed the “ecosystem engineer” for its ingenuity in building a mosaic of natural surfaces where it retains water and expands wetlands, so necessary in the current conditions of climate change and prolonged droughts.

Among the benefits of the presence of beavers in the southeast of the Făgăraș Mountains, we can highlight the contribution to the purification and filtration of water with the help of the dams they build, generating sediments and nutrients. They also increase the natural richness of the area by creating wetlands, whole areas rich in nature, which provide food and shelter for other species: birds, fish, insects and amphibians. In addition, beavers help to expand wetlands and increase the capacity of land to store more water, so they can significantly reduce the flow rate and even stabilize the volume of water after heavy rains, mitigating the effect of flooding. But their activity can also help sustain an optimal flow of water in times of drought.

In addition to its invaluable natural value, the beaver is also a true tourist ambassador. Its presence in the area can attract thousands of visitors a year, lovers of nature and beauty, people who want to know this species and learn as much as possible about it. In this sense, during the next period, the foundation will set up three tourist information centres in Rucăr, Lerești and Nucșoara, Argeș County, centres where those interested will have the opportunity to enjoy and learn about this species and its role in nature.