135: Wilder Bison with Paul Whitfield

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The Wilder Bleen project is a cooperation between Wildwood Trust and Kent Wildlife Trust. It received an immense amount of coverage in the press worldwide, not only in nature magazines like National Geographic and Mongabay but also in the mainstream media. The goal of the project is to promote natural habitat recovery by restoring the natural processes that sustain it. The crown jewel of the project is the introduction of European bison in the UK in place of the now-extinct steppe bison. Enter the controversy!

Along with a very positive reception, the project also received a fair amount of criticism. Most of it hinged around the fact that the European bison was never native to the British Isles. Also, out of necessity, the animals are in a 200-hectare enclosure. This was not overlooked by the critics who called it a zoo and a vanity project.

What you think about such an initiative is often determined by the opinion of people who you hang out with and from whom you first heard about it. So my first impressions were not too positive. However, it’s important to read, listen and hear from people directly involved and develop our own opinions. And that’s exactly what I did. The more I learned the more I saw the project in a positive light.

In this episode, I chat with Paul Whitfield, the Director General of Wildwood Trust, about the Wilder Blean project. We discuss the aims, the criticism, the current status and the future of the project.

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