Wilder Blean

BREAKING NEWS: A ‘tiny’ announcement…

Welcome to the newest member of our Wilder Blean herd! Our Bison Rangers were surprised to be greeted by an adorable calf when carrying out checks in September on the herd of bison in West Blean and Thornden Woods.

The bison calf is the fourth member of the Wilder Blean bison herd. This project is a wilding initiative in partnership with our colleagues at Kent Wildlife Trust, in which our bison team of ecosystem engineers is transforming the ancient woodland to combat the climate and biodiversity crises through their natural behaviours.

This cute calf already has bundles of personality – she loves to play in the rain and is already copying her mum and aunties’ iconic bison behaviours!

How can you help?

Please support the growing herd and the Wilder Blean project.
By supporting this pioneering wilding initiative, you can help us provide the best possible environment for Kent’s youngest ecosystem engineer, because if nature thrives, we do too.

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What is the Wilder Blean project?

Wildwood Trust and Kent Wildlife Trust are launching a flagship wilding project, ‘Wilder Blean’ in Blean woods near Canterbury. The project will promote stronger habitats by restoring natural processes that are able to withstand the current environmental crisis and species decline, and in the long run, reverse it.

In the UK, lack of woodland management is one of the eight biggest drivers of species decline. Wilder Blean aims to bring transformational change through a controlled trial with bison; a missing keystone species that is able to naturally manage woodlands.

A key part of this project will be extensive consultation and engagement with local landowners, interest groups and residents who know and love this area.

Although European bison were never native to the UK, Steppe Bison and other wild grazing animals once were. European bison are now our best chance at recreating those grazing behaviours that once existed. Despite their size, bison are peaceful animals whose ability to fell trees by rubbing up against them and eating the bark, gives space for other plants and animals to thrive. Bison will be accompanied by other grazing animals to create the greatest plant and animal diversity possible.


Where is it?

The project will take place in part of the West Blean woods nature reserve, which is in one of the largest areas of ancient woodland in the UK.

The wood is ever-changing and has an ancient droveway through it that is almost a thousand years old. Before Kent Wildlife Trust bought the wood, it was managed commercially for timber production, which is why almost half of the wood is covered in plantations of non-native conifer trees.


Why did we embark on this project?

In the UK, we’re headed for increasing species extinctions in the next 10 years. Wildwood Trust and Kent Wildlife Trust know that the key to enabling species to survive and thrive is to create a nature recovery network, of bigger, better quality, and more joined up habitats

Species in the UK are declining at their fastest rate for thousands of years according to the latest State of Nature report and unfortunately human management alone is not enough to create the kinds of habitats species need.

What we need are natural solutions and this is why we have taken this first step to drive ‘Wilding’ at Wildwood Trust and in collaboration with Kent Wildlife Trust across some of their sites in Kent. Wilding is when nature is given the tools and space it needs to recover itself and has the potential to increase abundance of biodiversity to levels beyond what human management achieves and helps store carbon.


We’ve tried to cover as much as possible here in our FAQs but please do email us at wilderblean@wildwoodtrust.org

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