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Exmoor ponies introduced to Forest of Dean

Posted on 06th April 2016

The Forest of Dean is known for its natural beauty and amazing wildlife. Recently, a group of Exmoor ponies has been welcomed to the region to help increase natural grazing in the Forest.

Exmoor Ponies

The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has welcomed the ponies to their Edgehills Bog property – just north of Cinderford. Organisers of the move said these wild horses are being introduced to the Forest of Dean in hopes of keeping natural pastures from being overgrown due to a lack of grazing.

“They have been specially selected for the project as they will eat the heather, gorse, bracken and brambles that other animals will not eat,” said Kevin Caster, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s reserves manager to local media. “The ponies are in a fenced enclosure in order to focus their grazing on the nature reserve, so that the heathland habitat evolving here continues to develop and foster a diverse range of species.”

Many grazing areas in the Forest have become overgrown because of a lack of sheep in this part of Gloucestershire. 15 years ago, local farmers were forced to cull thousands of free-roaming sheep due to a Foot and Mouth disease outbreak.

At the Edgehill site, visitors are still more than welcome to walk through the reserve, Caster said, but people are being asked not to feed the ponies. Visitors planning on enjoying a holiday cottage in the Forest of Dean should put enjoying the local nature at the top of their to-do list.

The entire project has been put into place thanks to the Foresters’ Forest, a Heritage Lottery Funded Landscape Partnership programme that oversees a number of projects in the region.

Image Credit: Marie Hale (flickr.com)