Rare Breed grazing trial at Dalditch Plantation
Rare breeds of ponies or cattle could be introduced to an area of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths as part of a sustainable management programme.
The East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust is talking to rare breed farmers about introducing animals to graze Dalditch plantation.
Ten years ago a conifer plantation was felled to make way for a mosaic of lowland heath. This proved to be very successful, with both flora and fauna flourishing. Rare species such as the Dartford Warbler and Nightjars are now a regular sight on the Commons which are owned by Clinton Devon Estates.
However, to stop trees re-establishing themselves and to prevent the gorses and bracken taking-over, the area has had to be managed with spraying and with machinery including tractors and cutters.
Now, as part of a trial, the Trust is talking to rare breed pony and cattle farmers about introducing livestock to do this management naturally, by grazing.
Grazing has already proved successful in others parts of the estate, including Woodbury Common.
"Although we will need to reinstate the fence we do not intend to stop the community from enjoying the heaths, so we are planning to introduce bridleway gates to give people access," said Commons Warden Bungy Williams. "This means that people will still have free use of the area, and at the same time be able to see our grazing scheme at work. "
"We would very much like to hear what local people who use Dalditch Plantation think of our plans. And if the negotiations with rare breed farmers are successful, the ponies or cattle will be brought in sometime in the new year."