Beavers played a key role in the settlement and development of Canada. Beaver pelts drove the economy and formed the "currency" for the trade between the Hudson Bay Company and the aboriginal nations in Canada.
The beaver population steeply declined under the pressures of over trapping and reached a threatened species status. Presently beavers are reclaiming much of their original habitat, at least what is left of it. In many areas this recovery is rather spectacular. This recovery is captured by comparison of old Aerial Photography with recent high and low resolution Google Earth imagery.
Figure 1: High Level Beaver Landscape, Alberta , Canada . This low resolution oblique Google Earth image (Digital Globe) shows an unusually high concentration of beaver dams in in all the drainage channels. All the creeks (Bede, Caribou, Parma, Melto etc.) have been transformed by beaver into a long strips of beaver ponds and beaver controlled lakes. The Mackenzie highway is visible as the thin grey line in the high resolution strip on the right side of the image. the town of High Level, Alberta is just to the north of the east of the red outline on the Highway.
Figure 2: High Resolution Detail of Beaver dams and Ponds. This is the Yellow circle area enlarged. Drainage is to the right. Beaver dams, ponds and lodges are clearly visible.
Figure 3: This vertical Google Earth image shows the widespread distribution of beaver dams and ponds in all creeks. The Green areas in between are slightly higher and covered with forest which show signs of repeated forest fires.
Figure 4: This NASA World Wind Pseudo Colour Landsat Image (2000) shows the broader landscape setting of this high density beaver area. The near infrared enhances the beaver ponds (small black spots creating a loosely knitted landscape impression).
Figure 5: This Apple Maps image capture, probably later than 2010. It provides a detail of th landscape near the point of the red arrows on the images of figures 3 and 4. This is a fall image which shows the yellow leaves of the poplar so common in this landscape.
Figure 6: Also an Apple Maps image capture juts to the north of figures 3 and 4 but typical of this beaver landscape. Below in Figure 7 provides a high resolution image of one of the beaver dams and lodges in the centre of figure 6.
Figure 7: Also an Apple Maps image capture juts to the north of figures 3 and 4 but typical of this beaver landscape. Below in Figure 7 provides a high resolution image of one of the beaver dams and lodges in the centre of figure 6. The level of detail is remarkable!
Figure 8: Cross section of the beaver landscape
Figure 9: Topographic Map of the Beaver landscape