We see BRAT as a powerful research and restoration/conservation planning tool for questions relating to where in the landscape dam-building activity by beaver might be sustainable and at what sort of dam densities. At the heart of this is a capacity model, that models the capacity of the landscape to support dam-building activity by beaver. What transforms BRAT from a simple capacity model to an assessment tool is its ability to combine: A) existing and historic capacity, B) riparian habitat condition and recovery potential and C) probabilities of potential conflict with humans into information that assigns stream segments to seven different beaver conservation and restoration categories. In addition the BRAT decision support and planning tool has the ability to:
- Combine with other layers that limit realization of capacity (e.g. grazing pressure)
- Combine with River Styles to look at restoration potential (e.g. reconnection of floodplains in incised streams)
- Develop and explore different scenarios that represent management options (e.g. riparian fencing or installation of beaver dam analogues (BDAS)) as well as different climate change scenarios (e.g. changing flow regimes).
With the completion of the Utah statewide run of BRAT (June 2014), BRAT is now fully operational as a beaver decision support and planning tool. BRAT is now a ArcGIS Toolbox (March 2016) Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool (BRAT) toolbox v2.0.
BRAT As A Restoration Planning Tool
BRAT and its sister R-CAT, can be used to plan and prioritize restoration projects as explained in the video below:
Future BRAT Tools
BRAT currently consists of an ArcGIS Toolbox. However, we think BRAT could be more useful to managers, practitioners and researchers if we could deploy it as a WebGIS application that would allow users to:
- Explore and visualize BRAT runs for the Western US in a Google Maps interface
- Run and produce simple BRAT scenarios
- Export BRAT outputs as KML or shapefiles
Implementing the Vision
We are actively pursuing funding opportunities to enable us to develop the above tools and disseminate them widely. If you or your organization would benefit from these tools, please feel free to contact us to discuss collaborative opportunities.