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Restoring ancient British woodland

Special Interest Programme / Partner story

©  Bristol Zoological Society

Enclosures for the European brown bear, Eurasian Lynx, European wolves and wolverine have been constructed on 7.5 acres of British ancient woodland. The aim is to create an educational, historical exhibit that allows guests to see what the animals’ habitat was previously like and to understand the impact of forest loss. Enclosures have been built to provide animals with sufficient outdoor space to allow them to display as many of their natural behaviours as possible.

This British Ancient Woodland project is organised by the Bristol Zoological Society (BZS), a conservation and education charity that runs and operates Bristol Zoo Gardens. The Ancient Woodlands project is in line with BZS’s mission to: save wildlife through conservation science research; protect species and habitats; encourage sustainable behaviour and perceptions; educate people about wildlife; and give families a great day out.

BZS is the custodian of magnificent woodland of oak, birch and beech trees that have regenerated naturally from those growing there 3,000 years ago. A beautiful and rich wildlife habitat, the woodland is home to many threatened species, and BZS aspires to demonstrate best practice principles to help protect and restore it.

The Bristol Zoological Society ensures the site is managed for the benefit of native species. To this end the team works to remove invasive and non-native species from the woodland and ensures that those which are naturally regenerating are not damaged. To encourage native wildlife, the team installs bat and nest boxes in order to encourage bats and birds to thrive. They also plant indigenous trees and shrubs, such as English oak and other native species. The overall priorities are to ensure the area remains a healthy, functioning ecosystem and to demonstrate best practice in ancient woodland management. 

The exhibit has provided BZS the opportunity to expand its outdoor learning programme with new topics for schoolchildren of all ages, that allow them to connect with nature and learn about British woodlands and wildlife.

Learn more about BZS’s conservation and education work on its website.

This project was supported through Oak’s Special Interest Programme, which covers a wide range of fields – find out about the work of our other partners here.