Heavy horses are making welcome return to Hastings Country Park

Heavy Horses at Fairlight SUS-180613-110156001
Heavy Horses at Fairlight SUS-180613-110156001

Frankie Woodgate and her heavy working horses Yser and Tobias made a welcome return to Hastings Country Park nature reserve last week.

The traditional method of landscape management involves working horses pulling heavy rollers to “bruise” the bracken.

Bruising bracken with horse drawn rollers is an effective, low impact method of reducing the vigour and growth of bracken in hard-to-reach areas and avoids the use of chemicals.

Lead councillor for the environment, Colin Fitzgerald said: “Last year, Hastings Country Park won an innovations award for establishing a free roaming conservation grazing project, and using heavy horses to reduce the bracken is just another way of managing threatened habitats on public land, which successfully combines biodiversity and wildlife management with public enjoyment and getting closer to nature, especially for residents from disadvantaged communities in the town.”

By reducing the amount of bracken in Hastings Country Park nature reserve Hastings Borough Council are restoring native coastal grassland habitats.

The reserve consists of Hastings Cliffs Special Area of Conservation, Hastings Cliffs to Pett Beach Site of Special Scientific Interest and Hastings Country Park.

The nature reserve covers 345 hectares (853 acres) of coastal gill woodlands, open pasture and cliff top grassland, together with five kilometres of dramatic soft rock cliffs and coastline and offers some of the most stunning views of the south-east coast.

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