A new woodland area is being planted at Marwell Zoo to provide a source of nutritious food for its animals and expand the native habitat for local wildlife.
In collaboration with the Woodland Trust more than 7,000 trees will be planted. Once the eight-acre woodland begins to mature, animals such as giraffe, okapi and bongo will enjoy a plentiful supply of browse.
Dr Ollie Szyszka, Animal Nutritionist at Marwell Zoo, said: “Browse has a number of health and behavioural benefits for animals. It provides the much-needed fibre required by these species to maintain a healthy gut and efficient digestion. It helps promote healthy teeth and gums and stimulates the natural process of rumination in ruminant species. Behaviourally, it helps keep animals occupied and prolongs feeding time.”
This project has been made possible thanks to the Woodland Trust’s flagship MOREwoods scheme, which began in 2010 and has seen the creation of more than 2,075 hectares of woodland and the planting of more than two million trees across the UK.
The Woodland Trust supplied a mix of alder, field maple, goat willow, small leaved lime, oak, silver birch, wild cherry, and hazel, plus canes and spirals for protection.
Dr Martin Wilkie, Conservation Biologist at Marwell, said: “Not only will the production of forage for the zoo be a huge benefit, the creation of woodland will generate diverse woodland habitat. The varied species mix and structure will benefit insect pollinators, birds and other wildlife communities. The rough grassland beneath will provide refuge for small mammals, supporting our resident Barn owl population, and a plan to overseed with wildflowers will enhance the floral community.”
Anyone who wishes to plant a minimum half a hectare of their land (1.25 acres) can sign up to MOREWoods. The Woodland Trust offers expert advice and guidance on creating native woodland and can provide the best species mix for each site. The Trust will also contribute up to 60 percent of the set up costs and for larger sites of a hectare or more can arrange to plant the trees as well. Further information is available at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant
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