Team fundraiser • 2 members • 2 charities
Raising money for Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust
The Wilder Blean Project is growing!
Donate to support the bison herd and other conservation grazing animals and create a Wilder Blean.
Our wildlife is in crisis. The UK's natural systems face collapse and wildlife numbers continue to plummet. Species in the UK are declining at their fastest rate for thousands of years; 56% of them are in decline, 165 are critically endangered, and animals that were once synonymous with the British countryside have all but disappeared. Traditional conservation techniques are failing and human management is not enough to create the kinds of habitat wildlife needs.
A systemic change is needed for nature-led recovery to the crisis we face; the key to sustainable habitat management is using a wilder approach to create nature recovery networks of bigger, better, joined-up habitat. We need natural solutions.
Wilding is when nature is given the space and tools it needs to recover, creating an abundance of biodiversity at levels far beyond what human management alone can achieve. Together, Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust have embarked on a flagship wilding project in West Blean and Thornden Woods, introducing bison as natural engineers of restoration. These gentle woodland giants will transform the woods into a lush, thriving, biodiverse environment, and allow us to take a step back from traditional hands-on management practices.
As a keystone species, bison act as ecosystem engineers, helping nature to recover and restoring the natural biodiversity of a landscape. Their natural behaviours - grazing, dust bathing, eating bark, and felling trees - can all have a really positive impact on the ecosystem, creating space for other species to thrive. The bison are experts in the natural restoration of woodlands, and are the best solution for creating a wilder ecosystem.
In July 2022, three female bison were released into the woodland, and begun to change the landscape around them. Straight away they de-barked trees, which will create standing deadwood, making a home for invertebrates and bats. They also were seen dustbathing, creating sandpits loved by burrowing insects. The herd even began to tread down bracken, eat brambles and create corridors through the woodland, this has brought light to the forest floor and started to make room for wildlife to thrive.
A few months later, in September, bison rangers welcomed the birth of the first wild bison calf to be born in the UK in thousands of years.
The arrival of the bull from Germany, who was long-delayed due to paperwork complications, provided an early Christmas present, as he finally made it to his herd on 23 December.
Since then, the team have been working on finalising work to bring the lesser mentioned puzzle pieces of the project to Blean Woods - the conservation grazers. The Exmoor ponies, Iron-Age pigs and long-horn cattle have been patiently waiting on other reserves for the opportunity to bring their unique behaviours to the woodland. These animals will be working in harmony with the bison to not only help restore the woodland, but showcase the different impacts these grazing animals can have and inform future wilding projects.
We now need your help to give these animals a bigger home, so we can utilise their natural behaviours to allow wildlife to thrive.
Your donation will give this bison family and other grazing animals the space they need to grow, and help create a bigger, better, more biodiverse home for wildlife in Kent.
Our wildlife is in crisis, but it is not too late to act. Together, we can create a future where there is still hope, a future where people and nature can thrive together. Help us make this rewilding dream a reality.