Academic Year 2023-2024
Institution University of Aberdeen


School: School of Geosciences

Project: Cultural landscape aesthetics of beaver-modified landscapes, a cross cultural comparison

Supervisors: Dr Flurina Wartmann, Professor David G Anderson & Dr Alan Law (University of Stirling)

Undergraduate Education: BSc International Tourism Management, Sheffield Hallam University

Postgraduate Education: MSc Environmental Management (Wildlife & Landscape Management), Sheffield Hallam University

Research: Urgent action is needed to reverse global biodiversity loss, as highlighted in the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) with their decision to adopt a Global Biodiversity Framework which stipulates restoring 30% of ecosystems by 2030. To address ecosystem restoration at landscape scale, beavers are considered ecosystem engineers as they modify their landscapes primarily via damming streams, creating a dynamic patchwork of unique habitats (Law et al., 2017). Ecological and hydrological effects of beaver restoration are relatively well studied, however less is known on intangible cultural ecosystem services and disservices of beaver-modified landscapes (Ulicsni et al., 2020).

For example, how do changes associated with beaver modifications change landscape values such as aesthetics, sense of place, or place identity? Are beaver landscapes beautiful, or ugly? Do they disrupt or create new place identity values?

Through a variety of research methods, such as interviews & surveys, this project will assess cultural ecosystem services associated with beaver-modified landscapes across different cultural and ecological settings in the proposed study sites of Central Europe (e.g., Germany & Switzerland) and Scandinavia, compared with recent reintroductions in Britain.

Knowledge generated from this project will inform cultural ecosystem service assessment methods and understanding of such services in different cultural contexts, which is relevant for policy, as well as how to manage societal relations with respect to ecological management of reintroducing species in Great Britain and elsewhere.


  • Law, A., Gaywood, M. J., Jones, K. C., Ramsay, P., & Willby, N. J. (2017). Using ecosystem engineers as tools in habitat restoration and rewilding: beaver and wetland. Science of the Total Environment, 605, 1021-1030.
  • Ulicsni, V., Babai, D., Juhász, E., Molnár, Z., & Biró, M. (2020). Local knowledge about a newly reintroduced, rapidly spreading species (Eurasian beaver) and perception of its impact on ecosystem services. Plos One, 15(5), e0233506.


  • Twitter: @stephwebb99


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