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Why beavers matter as the planet heats up

Beaver dams are cool(ing the air).

Kimberly Mas is a senior producer at Vox video focused on science explainers.

If you know anything about beavers, it’s probably that they build dams. These giant structures made of sticks, stones, and mud can reach heights up to 10 feet (3 meters) and lengths averaging 20 feet (6 meters) — though the biggest one ever found was significantly larger and could be seen from space. Dams completely alter the landscape, flooding the surrounding area and creating wetlands. It’s one reason beavers have often been considered pests that can cause serious damage when they build dams too close to homes or roads.

But scientists have for decades understood beavers’ importance as “ecosystem engineers.” And as the climate crisis continues to worsen, newer studies are finding that beavers play a vital role in dampening its effects, especially in areas prone to fire, drought, and even heat waves. To build a more resilient future, it might be best to look to the beavers.

You can find this video and more on Vox’s YouTube Channel.