The beavers caused losses of $73 million, according to a study by Magallanes specialists


A group of specialists from the University of Chile has quantified the impact of beavers in Magallanes, Casa de Bello said.

Since its introduction into Magellanic lands, the beaver (Castor canadensis), a rodent belonging to the Castoridae family, native to the United States and Canada, has caused losses in the biodiversity of the area, which has more than 23,000 hectares of overgrown native forest .

In this context, “Socio-economic assessments in environmental issues: the case of the beaver in the Magallanes region”, is the title of the study that was carried out by academics from the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Nature Conservation of Casa de Bello. , a project that will contribute to the generation of new public policies on the management of the Magallanes beaver, one of the invasive alien species.

The investigation – which was presented in Punta Arenas – revealed the extent of the damage caused by the beaver with the use of satellite images and their subsequent confirmation on land. In this way, out of a study area of ​​77,687 hectares, 27,167 hectares presented the direct impact of the invasion of beavers, mainly located south of the island of Tierra del Fuego. The largest affected area (45.8%) corresponds to native forests, mostly of the genus Nothofagus, followed by dams located in peat bogs and wetlands (34.7%).

The investigation saw the participation of academics U. de Chile, Gustavo Cruz and Benito González, as well as the collaboration of professionals Iñigo Bidegain, Alexis Segovia and Ana Araos. Cristóbal Pizarro and Oscar Skewes participated from the University of Concepción.

The project used the ‘ecosystem services’ approach, ie the direct or indirect contributions of the studied area to human well-being, providing results that will be useful for implementing future beaver management policies in the southernmost region of the country. .

The project was funded under the GEF Castor Project, by the Global Environment Facility, Global Environmental Facility (GEF), supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of the Environment.

Beaver: An invasive species

In 1946 the Argentine Navy imported 10 pairs of beavers from Canada, releasing them on Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, in the extreme south of South America, with the aim of enriching the native fauna. This action did not consider the effects on the native forest ecosystem resulting from this new species, as it had no predators.

The beaver (Castor canadensis) is a rodent belonging to the Castoridae family, native to the United States and Canada. This species can develop wherever there are rivers and deciduous trees, as it has the ability to cut down mature trees for food and construction.

In Chile, following the investigation, it was concluded that the beaver represented one of the main threats to national biodiversity, generating losses of 73 million dollars. The greatest impact is received by timber production (82.6%), a sector that lost more than $60.3 million, considering the forest’s potential to produce wood for furniture, construction, among others.

Likewise, the felling of native trees is one of this animal’s most damaging habits, as the trunk is left with the marks of its teeth and a characteristic pencil point shape.

The GEF Project: promotes the care of biodiversity

Since there is a latent risk that this species will continue to expand through the territory north of Magallanes and the Chilean Antarctic, the GEF Beaver Project seeks to prevent the advance of the beaver to preserve the native forests that are affected today.

In this direction, in July 2016 the Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved the project “Enhancement and development of tools for the management, prevention and control of the beaver (Castor canadensis), an invasive alien species in Chilean Patagonia”. This initiative was presented by the Ministry of the Environment, the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), the NGO Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG), with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ‘Agriculture as an implementation agency.

Such research is based on three components, the first being project management and governance, involving information, monitoring, early warning systems, communication and local participation. It also considers demonstration activities and finally monitoring the progress of projects and disseminating information.

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