Mar 29 2019

Tall order for woodland creation

We’ve been working with a Hampshire zoo to plant more than 7,000 trees on its farmland to benefit both its zoo animals and British wildlife.
Once the eight-acre woodland begins to mature at Marwell Zoo, animals such as giraffe, okapi and bongo will enjoy a plentiful supply of browse, which they naturally eat in the wild.
Outreach adviser Luke Everitt has guided the zoo through the process of design, ordering and planting the native woodland.
We’ve supplied 5,825 trees, a mix of alder, field maple, goat willow, small leaved lime, oak, silver birch and wild cherry, and 1,450 hazel shrubs.
Luke explained: “There’s a growing interest in planting trees and shrubs for browse, partly because of the savings that can be made on feed but mainly because of the nutritional and medicinal benefits it brings to the animals. Willow, for example, is nature’s aspirin, containing salicin, the active ingredient in the familiar bathroom cabinet remedy.
“We’ve chosen a mix of species which will readily coppice and provide plenty of annual regrowth as well as plenty of palatability to tickle a bongo’s tastebuds or satisfy the hungriest giraffe. We’ve also chosen species similar to those in woods next to the farm to ensure suitability for soil type, hydrology and maximum survival rate.”
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.”
There’s a great video of the project featuring Luke on the zoo’s Facebook page
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