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



The old steppe bison once roamed the country that later became England. Their presence gave other animals and plants the healthy ecosystem they needed to thrive.

Britain is now looking for the closest relative of steppe bison to bring back the region’s ancient forests – the European bison.

The $ 1.4 million “Wild Blean” project, funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund, aims to spring a small herd of European bison in the West Blean forests near Canterbury released in East Kent.
The bison will come from the Netherlands or Poland, where previous releases have proven successful, and the first release will include one man and three women, according to the Guardian. Natural breeding is expected to enlarge the herd.
The Kent Wildlife Trust, one of the conservation organizations that led the project, called the European bison “ecosystem engineers”
; and said the species could “change forests in a way no other animal can”.

“They eat bark and create dust baths that are beneficial for many plants and animals,” added the trust. “These are features that have been lacking in our British forests for thousands of years, and when they are brought back can help restore an abundance of wildlife.”

Britain is one of the most naturally affected 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 declining.

“The Wilder Blean project will demonstrate that a wilder, nature-based solution is the right one to deal with the climate and natural crisis we are now facing,” said Paul Hadaway, director of nature conservation at Kent Wildlife Trust, in one Explanation. “Using missing keystone species such as bison to restore natural habitat processes is key to creating bio-richness in our landscape.”

Once the bison have settled in their fenced area, the public can visit and watch the animals.


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