The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter

Paperback, 304 pages

Published March 8, 2019 by Chelsea Green Publishing.


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5 stars (1 review)

In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that everything we think we know about what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is inaccurate a historical artefact produced by the removal of beavers from their former haunts. Across the Western Hemisphere, a coalition of `beaver believers - including scientists, government officials, and farmers have begun to recognize that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them, and to restore these industrious rodents to streams throughout North American and Europe. It s a powerful story about one of the world s most influential species, how North America was settled, the secret ways in which our landscapes have changed over the centuries and the measures we can take to mitigate drought, flooding, wildfire, biodiversity loss, and the ravages of climate change. And ultimately, it s about how we can learn to co-exist, harmoniously …

4 editions

An underrated environmental hero gets some overdue respect

5 stars

This is, flat out, the best book I have read in the last ten years. Skip the rest of this review and go read the book.

Beavers are a keystone species. We need them. Our lives are worse off for having obliterated them from large swathes of North America.

Beavers once inhabited almost all of what is now Canada, Alaska, and the continental United States (except for most of Florida and the southwest deserts). It's hard to pin down an exact number, but the North American population of beavers before the invasion of European settlers was somewhere between 60 million and 400 million. The fur trade had almost made them extinct by the early 20th century. Fortunately, their numbers have recovered to some degree, and they are no longer in danger of extinction.

One problem is that their range has been tremendously reduced. They just don't exist in may parts …