Wild bison returns to the UK for the first time in thousands of years

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The ancient steppe bison once roamed the land that would later become England. Their presence significantly provided other animals and plants with the healthy ecosystem they needed to thrive.

Now the UK is looking to the nearest relative of the steppe bison to bring back the region’s ancient forests – the European bison.

The $ 1.4 million “Wilder Blean” project, funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream fund, aims to free a small herd of European bison in the woods of West Blean, near Canterbury in East Kent , in spring 2022.

The bison will come from the Netherlands or Poland, where previous outings have proven to be effective, and the initial release will include a male and three females, according to the Guardian. Natural reproduction is expected to increase the size of the herd.

Describing the European bison as an “ecosystem engineer,” the Kent Wildlife Trust, one of the conservation organizations leading the project, said the species can “change the woods in a way that no other animal can do that. ”

“They eat bark and create dustbaths that each have benefits for many plants and animals,” added the trust. “These are functions that our British forests have been missing for thousands of years and bringing them back can help restore abundant wildlife. ”

The United Kingdom is one of the most depleted countries in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund. More than one in seven native species are threatened with extinction and more than half are in decline.

“The Wilder Blean project will prove that a wilder, nature-based solution is the right way to deal with the climate and natural crisis we face,” said Paul Hadaway, conservation director for Kent, in a statement. Wildlife Trust. “Using key missing species like bison to restore natural processes in habitats is key to creating bio-abundance in our landscape. ”

Once the bison are installed in their fenced area, the public can visit and observe the animals.

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