Beavers come home as new landscape takes shape in Hungary



Posted on 11 November 2008  | 
One of the 15 beavers released at Tiszatarján.
© Ágota Kert /WWFEnlarge
On 31 October 2008, 15 beavers were released into the wild at the One Europe More Nature (OEMN) project site in Tiszatarján, eastern Hungary. The event marked the final chapter of a long-standing cooperation between WWF-Hungary, OBI (European home improvements retailer) and German NGO Bund Naturschutz in Bayern, which brought the beavers from Bavaria for release into the rapidly-changing wetlands of the Tisza floodplains.

The 5 beaver families followed the release of a herd of water buffalo in Tiszatarján during the summer of 2008, and seemed to take immediately to their new environment. And it really is a new environment. The former dense monoculture of the invasive shrub species Amorpha fructicosa is rapidly being cleared, sold to the nearby AES biomass power station, and burnt to generate green electricity. As the photograph on this page shows, the resultant landscape is changing before peoples’ very eyes, revealing the former mixed woody grassland (previously) so typical of the Tisza and its tributaries.

“These cleared areas are now being grazed by the buffaloes which will help bring back the grass, flower and insect diversity which is so valuable, including for the many birds which are returning to the area,” explained Charlie Avis, the OEMN Project Leader.

The beavers play a similarly positive ecological role for the wetlands. “Once the beautiful grasslands and wetlands are restored, the village will have additional opportunities for tourism and recreation, and already many people come here to look at the water buffaloes and the many other birds and animals. And all of it is paid for by the sales of the former shrubby jungle as biomass for green electricity.”

Of the many hundreds of visitors who came to the project site on 31 October, 2 were perhaps especially important: WWF field staff working in the Danube Delta in Romania and Ukraine. They were there to view and learn about the biomass cutting and grassland and wetland restoration, because Amorpha is also a nuisance where they work. Soon then, the lessons and experiences from Hungary could be used to solve environmental problems and kick-start a new economy elsewhere in Europe, showing that good ideas can find new homes.

The story is thus truly a win-win situation with benefits for people, for business, and for nature, including the 15 beavers who found a comfortable and spacious new home beside the Tisza River.


WWF’s One Europe More Nature (OEMN) project uses an innovative approach to forge unusual partnerships so that business and nature can co-exist. Its mechanisms lead to win-win solutions for all, allowing Europe’s rural workers to generate income from the countryside while protecting nature. OEMN, tested at many pilot rural locations throughout Europe, is now mainstreaming conservation into everyday European business life.

For more information on OEMN activities in the Tisza Floodplains, see the Tisza Floodplains Fact Sheet.

For more details about the beavers, contact Alexandra Balogh at: alexandra.balogh@wwf.hu.
One of the 15 beavers released at Tiszatarján.
© Ágota Kert /WWF Enlarge
Cutting and selling of the Amorpha fructicosa bushes reveals the former woody grassland habitat of the Tisza.
© Charlie Avis/WWF Enlarge

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