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DPHT RESEARCH PROJECT EVIDENCES THE BENEFITS OF EQUINES AS CONSERVATION GRAZERS: AIMS TO INFLUENCE GOVERNMENT POLICY

Tue 11 Feb 2020

Parke Estate, Bovey Tracey-based Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust has announced the initial results of its research project at its moorland site at Bellever, Postbridge in partnership with Plymouth University.  Findings suggest that ponies not only make a positive contribution to conservation management on Dartmoor, but are also a suitable option for conservation grazing schemes throughout the country.

Created in response to a request from Defra and Natural England (NE) to the Dartmoor Pony Action Group three years ago, the research aims to gather scientific evidence of the benefits of ponies as conservation grazers in creating suitable conditions for a range of biodiversity; and to influence government policy.

The Charity is delighted that this first report has been accepted by Defra and NE.  A Natural England ecologist has said: “The results of this trial provide good evidence of the positive impact of pony grazing on Molinia.  The study has been shared with Defra and it will form part of the body of evidence that will help to shape the future Environmental Land Management System’.

Says Dru Butterfield of DPHT: “Our pony herd has clearly changed its pattern of grazing, attracted into areas they would never previously have grazed, by using salt licks.  This evidence should be sufficient to ensure that suitably hardy ponies of all types and breeds are appreciated as effective conservation grazers to support biodiversity and tackle some of the factors affecting our landscapes such as highly invasive, dominating Molinia.  We see this research as very exciting and having national significance.”

Recognition of ponies as having a value in conservation terms is critical in helping to ensure they have a better financial value as well as being so important in terms of land management and tourism – not only on Dartmoor but across the UK. 

Anyone requiring further information should contact the DPHT at admin@dpht.co.uk or phone 01626 833234.

 



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