MARWELL zoo has announced a new woodland trail for walkers.

Ramblers will be guided by signs along the route, taking in ancient trees dating back to the 17th century.

It forms part of Marwell's project to restore its ancient semi-natural forest.

There are 30 hectares of woodland at the Zoo, featuring a range of plants not commonly found elsewhere in the UK.

Walkers will also need to keep their eyes peeled for unusual animals such as the rare yellow-necked mouse, and a variety of native and migrating wild birds.

Conservation biologist at Marwell, Martin Wilkie, said: “Marwell's woodlands are botanically diverse and of significant ecological value. With around 150 woodland species of flora and 50 species of Ancient Woodland Vascular Plants, we hope this new trail will encourage walkers, families and school children alike to discover this wonderful wildlife and marvellous habitat.”

The habitat restoration project, which includes coppice management and the removal of invasive plants like laurel and rhododendron, has been aided by The Veolia Environmental Trust, who awarded a grant of £14,708 through the Landfill Communities Fund.

Executive director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, McNabb Laurie, said: “The Trust supports community and environmental projects across the UK and it is always good to hear about the completion of a scheme we have funded. I hope the new woodland trail means people of all ages can explore and enjoy the woodland and its wonders. ”

The management of Marwell's woodlands can be traced back as far as the 14th century when huge oak trees were used to construct parts of Winchester Cathedral.