In an effort to revive an ancient habitat and the wildlife that belong to it, a project by Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust is planning to release a small herd of endangered animals into the Blean Woods near Kent.

Scheduled for Spring 2022, the £1 million project will release a closely-knit herd of four European Bison into a fenced enclosure away from the public footpath. Conservationists say natural breeding will then increase the herd.

The European Bison – the continent’s largest land animal – is the closest living relate to the ancient steppe bison that once roamed Britain thousands of years ago before hunting and changes to habitat led to its extinction.  

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The European variety will help engineer the habitat in several ways including tree felling – the process in which the species rubs on selected trees, eating its bark and removing winter fur, enabling other species to make use of the dead wood. The method will create a healthy habitat, producing areas of space and light, ripe for not only bison’s, but other animals, insects and plants.

The project is significant to conservation in the country, particularly as Britain is one of the most nature-depleted nations in the world with some of its most important wildlife populations steadily declining for decades. According to experts, lack of woodland management is one of the biggest causes of species decline.

The Wilder Blean project will prove that a wilder, nature-based solution is the right one to tackle 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,” said Paul Hadaway, from Kent Wildlife Trust.

Aisha Mohamed