Kent woodland project hires bison as ‘ecosystem engineers’

Around 400 hectares of countryside will benefit from a species known to shape the environment around it.

West Blean and Thornden Woods in Canterbury are already home to the award winning Wilder Blean project, run by the Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust, which has provided home to a bison herd. 

Now, a £100,000 grant from Veolia is set to expand their habitat from 50 to 200 hectares. Work will include building bespoke ‘bison bridges’, giving the herd wider access to the forest area, maximising on their innate traits such as seed dispersal, habitat creation and disturbance effects. Solar panels will be installed on infrastructure. 

‘This unique and innovative project was one the Veolia Environmental Trust was keen to be a part of due to its biodiversity and social importance,’ said Caroline Schwaller, MBE, Chair of The Veolia Environmental Trust. ‘Our grant will help reduce the need for human intervention and management of this woodland, which lessens the need for heavy plant or machinery and the associated emissions. It will utilise renewable energy through solar panels and improve public walking routes, allowing both nature and people to flourish in unison.’

The generous support from the Veolia Environmental Trust allows us to take another step closer to a wilder, more connected Blean landscape where bison are playing an important role in boosting biodiversity and making the landscape more resilient to climate change,’ added Talia Sherrin-Gates of Kent Wildlife Trust. ‘Once completed, the bison will have free-roam of over 200 hectares of land allowing them to keep their wild behaviours that make such a difference to the landscape. It will also bring people closer to nature as they walk over the bridges and perhaps catch a sight of these magnificent ecosystem engineers as they go about their bison business.’

More net zero and climate change: 

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Image: Donovan Wright





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