Players of People’s Postcode Lottery in Great Britain are supporting a project designed to restore habitats and tackle climate change. The £1.125m Wilder Blean Project was funded by money raised by players and awarded through the annual Dream Fund.
Photo credits: Robert Canis/Kent Wildlife Trust
A ground-breaking project to slow the climate crisis using wild bison has reached a major milestone as three European bison were released into the wild on Monday 18 July.
It’s the first time the species has roamed the British countryside in thousands of years.
The bison will create a more climate resilient landscape within West Blean and Thorden Woods in Kent, UK and their natural behaviours will help restore dynamic and complex habitats.
Their taste for bark will kill some trees and their bulk will open up trails, letting light spill onto the forest floor, while their love of rolling around in dust baths will create more open ground. All this should allow new plants, insects, lizards, birds and bats to thrive.
Beginning Of A New Era
Evan Bowen-Jones, Chief Executive Officer at Kent Wildlife Trust, said, "The restoration of naturally functioning ecosystems is a vital and inexpensive tool in tackling the climate crisis. The bison will help to create climate resistant landscapes which can adapt to the challenges presented by the crisis we face."
"We want Wilder Blean to mark the beginning of a new era for conservation in the UK. We need to revolutionise the way we restore natural landscapes, relying less on human intervention and more on natural engineers like bison, boar and beaver."
European bison are a keystone species who will help restore natural processes in West Blean and Thornden Woods. Known as 'eco-system engineers', the bison will breathe new life into the ancient woodland. Their natural behaviours such as grazing, eating bark, felling trees and taking dust baths will open the canopy, creating light and new spaces for wildlife and previously missing species to thrive.
The bison will soon be joined by other grazing animals, including Exmoor ponies, Iron Age pigs and Longhorn cattle, whose natural behaviours compliment the bison and will help to manage the landscape without the need for human intervention. Their impact on biodiversity and the landscape will be closely monitored in a long-term survey programme led by Kent Wildlife Trust.
Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said, "The introduction of these extraordinary animals to British woodlands is a significant moment in the fight to protect and enhance biodiversity. It’s fantastic to see support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery going towards restoring and increasing biodiversity and bio-abundance in West Blean woods."