Do you know what this structure is and what animals made it?

tracks on the sea ice

© Kristine Sowl/USFWS

This is a dam made by beavers!

Beavers are renowned for their engineering abilities. With their sharp teeth and keen instincts, they construct elaborate dams and lodges that alter landscapes, creating wetland habitats vital for numerous plant and animal species. But the North American beaver population, which exceeded 100 million in the 1600s, has fallen to between 6 million and 12 million today. With fewer beaver dams, fewer streams in the western US are connected to their surrounding landscape.

Beaver dams play a crucial role in water conservation, help create biodiversity hotspots, and act as natural filtration systems, which benefits ecosystems and people. They are a great of example of ways we can use nature to address conservation challenges.

In fact, WWF has worked with cattle ranchers in Montana to build beaver dam analogs—human-made structures that mimic a beaver dam’s capability to slow and hold water for longer periods on the landscape. WWF also works in the Rio Grande basin supporting multiple organizations—Rio Grande Return, Defenders of Wildlife, and Rio Grande Joint Venture—using this nature based solution to help restore ecosystems.

Learn more about the many benefits of beaver dam analogs and this innovative conservation solution.