Thank a beaver on Clean Air Day

Beavers (Castor canadensis) enjoy a meal together in a pond.
Photo by Jillian Cooper / Getty Images

Take a deep breath – and thank a beaver. Clean Air Day is June 5 (the first Wednesday of June) and it’s a fantastic time to learn about what leads to air pollution, the impacts it has on our environment and health, and what steps we can all take to mitigate air pollution.

A great place to start is with beavers (Castor canadensis). The semi-aquatic rodents create and maintain wetlands through their damming activities, and that leads to cleaner air for everyone. Here’s how:

1 Wetlands sequester carbon and pollutants. As water runs off the land it carries with it harmful sediment and pollutants, and they eventually find their way into our waterways. Wetlands act as a filter – sediment gets caught and prevents it from causing further harm. Beaver dams themselves also retain sediment and reduce soil erosion. All of this keeps water – and therefore the air – cleaner.

2 Plants in wetlands filter pollutants. From air-borne pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and other particular matter absorbed by trees to removal of heavy metals and organic pollutants filtered by sedges, the plants that thrive in wetlands help create cleaner air and water.

3 Beavers impact wildfires. Studies show that areas around beaver ponds make it through wildfires with more vegetation and the increased surface level water created by their ponds also slows the movement of fires – leading to cleaner air.

4 Biodiversity boon. The ponds that beavers create and manage benefit an incredible list of insects, fish, amphibians, birds, mammals, plants, and microbes. This type of biodiversity makes for a healthier ecosystem that is more resilient and benefits the entire biome.

Hugging a beaver isn’t an appropriate way to say thanks, but consider learning more about them and how you can protect beavers in your community in our Beaver Coexistence Handbook. Click here to read it now, and show you appreciate beavers by protecting their homes.

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