Canterbury Bid

Wild bison artwork unveiled in Canterbury

A photo of two women looking at a large poster of a buffalo

An artistic celebration of a project in which wild bison will be released into a Canterbury woodland has been unveiled around the city.

Vinyls and a mural have been displayed to represent the eagerly anticipated arrival of wild bison due to be released into West Blean and Thornden Woods in July. The bison release is the culmination of a two-year project by the Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust and has been funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Alongside iron age pigs, Exmoor ponies and longhorn cattle, the bison will ‘wild’ the area, creating an abundance of biodiversity through their natural behaviours. The project is a nature-based solution to climate change and a ground-breaking intervention to help tackle the ecological crisis.

On Friday 1st July a stunning artistic project was unveiled outside the Gulbenkian Theatre at the University Campus. The artwork saw a plain wall turned into a beautiful bison mural and it is hoped that similar artwork celebrating nature will be funded in the future.

The mural was designed and created by the street artist Mark Antony (ATM Street Art). It took five days to complete and speaking at the unveiling he said: ‘There is very little I find inspiring or hopeful these days, but the idea of the bison wilding the area and creating spaces that are left to nature, is one of the main things that gives me hope for the future.’

The mural was funded by University of Kent, together with councillors from Kent County Council and Canterbury City Council using their members’ grants.  The project was co-ordinated by the Canterbury Society and the Canterbury Biodiversity Network.

Earlier in the week, in Canterbury city centre vinyl artwork representing bison and the red-billed Chough have been displayed in the window of the former Debenhams store offering visitors the opportunity to take a selfie with a Bison. This forms part of a broader vinlying project by Canterbury Business Improvement District (BID) to add vibrancy to the high street and increase dwell time.

The vinyls were designed and part funded by Kent Wildlife Trust with Canterbury BID, Wildwood Trust, Canterbury Society and KCC Councillor Mel Dawkins also funding the project.

Keeley Atkinson, Head of Wilder People and Place at Kent Wildlife Trust said: The artwork perfectly represents the shared vision of Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust to return more thriving complex ecosystems in our woodlands. The people involved in this project have been amazing and I would like to thank all of the team that has turned this vision into reality.

‘The UK is losing species at an alarming rate, more than anywhere else in the world, creating an abundance of biodiversity will help us tackle climate change and address the ecological crisis. We want to realise a wilder Kent and this is why we are doing this.’

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