BISON are set to be introduced to a British woodland following a conservation project in Kent, funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Led by Wildwood Trust and Kent Wildlife Trust, the ‘Wilder Blean’ project will take place in Blean woods near Canterbury, with the aim of restoring the ecosystem of the area’s 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.

The bison will be accompanied by other grazing animals to create the greatest plant and animal biodiversity possible.

The project has been made possible by an award of £1,125,000 from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund.

Kent Wildlife Trust, which owns several woodlands in the Blean area, will be responsible for overall management.

Wildwood Trust is a native species conservation charity, whose native species animal park is situated next to the woodland where the project will take place. The Wildwood Trust team will be looking after the animals daily and ensuring their welfare.

Paul Whitfield, director general of Wildwood Trust, said: “The partners in this project have long dreamt of restoring the true wild woodlands that have been missing from England for too long. This will allow people to experience nature in a way they haven’t before, connecting them back to the natural world around them in a deeper and more meaningful way. It will inspire people and demonstrate to policymakers that nature presents the answer to the crisis we face. It will empower them to make a difference and it will prove that there is a way to make things better in these challenging times.”

Paul Hadaway, director of conservation at Kent Wildlife Trust, added: “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.”

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