A new woodland area is being planted at Marwell Zoo. It will provide a source of nutritious food for its animals and expand the native habitat for local wildlife. The Woodlands Trust has been working with Hampshire conservation charity Marwell Wildlife to plant more than 7,000 trees on its farmland. This will benefit both its zoo animals and British wildlife.
Once the eight-acre woodland begins to mature, animals such as giraffe, okapi and bongo will enjoy a plentiful supply of twigs and foliage known as ‘browse’ which they naturally eat in the wild.
The unique project has been made possible thanks to the Woodland Trust’s flagship MOREwoods scheme. It 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.
In a first of its kind for the Trust, outreach adviser Luke Everitt has guided Marwell through the process of design, ordering and planting the native woodland. They have supplied 5825 trees, a mix of alder, field maple, goat willow, small leaved lime, oak, silver birch and wild cherry, and 1450 hazel shrubs plus canes and spirals for protection as they become established.
The trees will also benefit the environment too. Helping to improve soil stability and air quality, slowing the flow of flood water and providing a home for wildlife.
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.”