BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Travel Special -

The con­cept of rewil­d­ing has been pop­u­larised by writ­ers such as Ge­orge Mon­biot, with his book Feral. In Bri­tain, we can get lit­tle sense of what a rewil­ded land­scape looks like, but you don’t have to travel far to find one. Bi­ałowiez˙a For­est, strad­dling the Poland–Be­larus bor­der, is a good ex­am­ple. With more than 140,000ha of pro­tected old-growth habi­tat and 160,000ha of buf­fer zone, this is a primeval land­scape the size of an English county. Among its 40–50m-tall pines, spruces and oaks roam two species sym­bolic of a wild Euro­pean land­scape: bi­son and wolves.

And it’s bi­son, also called wisent, that make the area unique. Count­ing both Pol­ish and Be­larus­sian parts of the for­est, it is home to an es­ti­mated 900 an­i­mals – one-third of the world’s wild pop­u­la­tion. Win­ter, when bi­son are given sup­ple­men­tary feed, prom­ises the most re­li­able sight­ings.

Rewil­d­ing Europe

Euro­pean bi­son were rein­tro­duced into Bi­ałowiez˙a For­est in 1929.

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