Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust will lead a groundbreaking conservation project to introduce bison into a British woodland over the next two years.
The £1 million project, funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, will take place in Blean Wood near Canterbury with the aim of restoring the ecosystem of the area’s ancient woodlands.
Kent’s ‘Wilder Blean’ project follows successful bison releases in Poland, Romania and the Netherlands, where the “ecosystem engineers” have improved habitats for other species by felling trees to create space.
Despite their size – adult males can weigh as much as a tonne – bison are peaceful creatures and will be accompanied on the project by other grazing animals to create stronger habitats for greater plant and animal biodiversity.
Kent Wildlife Trust owns several woodlands in the Blean area, covering a total of almost 2,500 acres – about the size of a thousand football pitches – making it one of the largest areas of surviving ancient woodland in England. They will be responsible for the overall management of the project within Blean Wood, with Wildwood Trust looking after the animals daily and ensuring their welfare.
Paul Hadaway, Director of Conservation at Kent Wildlife Trust said:
“This award means we can now take an important step towards reversing the terrifying rate of species loss in the UK. The Wilder Blean project will prove that a wilder, nature-based solution is the right one to tackling the climate and nature crisis we now face. Using missing keystone species like bison to restore natural processes to habitats is the key to creating bio-abundance in our landscape.”
To find out more about the Wilder Blean project, go to kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/wilderblean