Beavers are destroying a UNESCO-protected site in Switzerland

Beavers are destroying a UNESCO-protected site in Switzerland

A colony of beavers in a small town in Switzerland is threatening to destroy one of the country’s most interesting historical sites. The animals in question have been digging a number of tunnels underneath the UNESCO-protected archaeological location at Inkwilersee, which is the site of a neolithic settlement. 

Beavers dug 14 tunnels at UNESCO-protected site

Divers working to preserve the historical location have found 14 different tunnels on the site at Inkwilersee - a lake located between the Swiss cantons of Bern and Solothurn. While they may be cute, beavers are also incredibly good at nibbling their way through wood - UNESCO protected, or not. Preservationists have also discovered that the creatures have bitten through a number of pieces of bronze-era and neolithic timber that once belonged to the original settlement. 

In order to preserve the rest of the site, authorities have crafted a plan - laying down a grid so that the beavers can no longer dig around the site. "The grid is laid, fixed and covered over the large island [that houses the settlement] and up to 10 meters into the lake," wrote the cantons in a joint statement.

Inkwilersee is not just an archeological site but a nature reserve too

To keep the beavers happy, the cantons have agreed to build a replacement site for the beavers to enjoy. The grill will not be installed until the winter of 2023 / 2024, but in the meantime, the damage sustained by the settlement can be recovered. 

"The damage is bad, but it's still worth doing something. If we wait another five or 10 years, that wouldn't be good," Solothurn canton archaeologist Pierre Harb told SRF. The cantonal authorities have stressed that while the Inkwilersee is an important archaeological site, the area is also a nature reserve and it is therefore important to take care of the creatures that live there. 

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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