The beaver is the largest European rodent. It is the only animal that arranges its own habitat, builds lodges and dams and obstructs the course of water. Beavers have not been seen in the region of Hesse since the 19th century.
Between 1987 and 1988, 19 beavers were released on the banks of the Sinn and Joss rivers in Sinntal, south Hesse.
The settlement was immediately successful. Meanwhile it has been demonstrated that there could be over 160 beavers in the region. The beaver is slowly returning and is a sign that the pastureland and riverscape is returning to its natural state.
The brook of the 'narrow Sinn' flows through a floodplain. On its banks an Alder riverside forest full of reeds and marshes grows. Three or four beavers have occupied the 'narrow Sinn' and have constructed a beaver lodge here.
The beaver habitat is a mix of flowing and stagnant water, in riverscapes as well as denser wooded and leafy areas. What is important to the beaver is that the water is between 0.50 and 0.80cm deep.
When the water is too shallow the beaver builds a dam out of twigs and branches (70cm -1m high), sealed with mud and plants. With that they are able to regulate the water level. A beaver dam is a wooden work of art!
The beaver also builds its lodge out of twigs and branches. The entrance is always underwater, so that when in danger, they can escape underground. Most water doesn’t freeze right to the ground so even in winter the beaver can reach its food sources by swimming.
Where the beaver is active as a landscape architect is in the creation of new living quarters, that in our tidied up landscape have almost disappeared. The variety of species in ‘beaverland’ has increased considerably in a short space of time.
On the ‘narrow Sinn’ the beaver has already converted the landscape into a rich naturescape. One part of the area is in the region of Bayern and has already been purchased from the responsible nature conservation authority for the conservation of the beavers.
A somewhat smaller area lies in Hesse and is still privately-owned. Naturefund, together with GNA bought this area and thus protected the whole of the beaver area in Sinntal.
The beaver area is located in south Hesse, in the Main-Kinzig district on the border with Bayern.
3,654 square metres
Black Stork, White-throated Dipper, Red-backed Shrike, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Northern Goshawk, Common Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Daubenton's bat, Common Pipistrelle;
Common Water-crowfoot, Fountain Moss, Filipendula, Briza, Common Spindle, Bird Cherry, Vibernum, Willow;
An offshoot of the 'narrow Sinn' river traverses the flood plains. The stream accompanies a riverside Alder forest and Oak copse. The wetland is interspersed with reeds and grasses. Here where the 'narrow Sinn' meets the Oberzell border the area occupied by 3 or 4 beavers as well as their lodge can be found. This area is part of the FFH area, 'Hessian Spessart beaver habitat' (5723-307).
The beaver has been spreading out in Hesse for more than 20 years. Today there are beaver territories not just in the Main-Kinzig district but also in the Fulda, Hersfeld-Rothenburg, Wetterau and Odenwald districts. In the Main-Kinzig district around 132 beavers live in 44 beaver territories. In the whole of Hesse however, just 168 beavers live in 51 territories (from: Beaver in Hesse, Mapping of the Beaver in 2008, Annual Report from Darmstadt City Council).
The Association for Nature Conservation and Wetland Development (GNA) is a partner of Naturefund and will be the future owner of the area. The GNA will manage the beaver habitat in the long-term.
The goal is to ensure habitat for the beaver, so that its landscape-altering activity doesn't provoke any potential conflict with other land-users. The land will not be worked and will in the future be left undisturbed.
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