Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust receive more than £1 million to fund groundbreaking wilding project
Bison are set to be introduced to a British woodland following a groundbreaking conservation project in Kent, funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Led by Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust, the project will take place in Blean woods near Canterbury. The “Wilder Blean” project aims to restore the ecosystem of the area’s renowned ancient woodlands.
The European bison is the continent’s largest land mammal and adult males can weigh as much as a tonne. The species is known as an “ecosystem engineer” because of its ability to create and improve habitats for other species.
Despite their size, bison are peaceful animals. Their ability to fell trees by rubbing up against them, and eating the bark, creates space for a wide range of other species to thrive. No other species can perform this job in quite the same way. The bison will be accompanied by other grazing animals to create the greatest plant and animal biodiversity possible; creating stronger habitats through natural processes that will withstand the current environmental crisis and species decline, and in the long run, reverse it.
The project will involve extensive consultation and engagement with local residents, landowners, and interest groups who know and love the area. Local people will have the opportunity to become involved in the innovative project and help return the land to a functioning ecosystem, brimming with life.
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.”