Conservation and Trapping Science

Beaver: Using deciduous softwoods to protect commercial forest stands against damage by Eurasian beaver
Jun 19, 2022 07:29 ET

Abstract
This study focuses on factors that affect tree species selection by Eurasian beavers in commercial and close-to-nature forests, with the aim of identifying practical proposals for protecting target commercial tree species while still maintaining high numbers of beavers. In forests dominated by commercial tree species, the food of beavers mainly comprises oak (Quercus spp.) and ash (Fraxinus spp.). Deciduous softwoods such as willow (Salix spp.), which are rarely subjected to forest management, tend to be preferred by beavers over commercial species. As such, they have the potential to act as a ‘distracting’ species, reducing pressure on those species important in forestry. In this paper, we illustrate specific examples where damage to commercial species has been reduced by softwood presence, and suggest potential parameters for softwood buffer zones, based on those known to affect browsing by beavers, i.e. water distance, tree species composition and tree diameter. Overall, our results suggest that damage to Central European commercial forest stands can be reduced by growing dense softwood stands (min. density 0.3 ha per beaver territory) at a distance of 10–20 m from the water’s edge.

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