Natural England - Conservation grazing ponies arrive at Goss Moor

Conservation grazing ponies arrive at Goss Moor

14 December 2012

Six Dartmoor ponies have been given a new home on Natural England’s Goss Moor National Nature Reserve (NNR) in Cornwall to contribute to a conservation grazing project.

The six-month old ponies from the Holwell Barton herd were offered to Natural England by H.O.P.E, a Dartmoor Hill pony rescue organisation.  Goss Moor NNR’s heaths and wetlands are already extensively grazed by a herd of 24 Shetland ponies, and the six Dartmoor geldings will run with the Shetland stallion and geldings to form a male-only herd. The breeder, Philippa Hughes, has named the six ponies after exotic-sounding grapes: Malbec, Merlot, Muscat, Salvador, Sangiovese and Zinfandel.

Phil Bowler, Senior Reserve Manager for Goss Moor NNR, said: “These Dartmoor ponies are ideal conservation grazers. By helping us to control scrub and coarse grasses the ponies will help maintain our heaths and wetlands and the species they contain such as the lesser butterfly orchid and the marsh fritillary butterfly. So they are already having a hugely beneficial impact. Over their lifespan of 25 years or so, these ponies will help us conserve some of Cornwall’s most valuable natural habitats.”

Goss Moor NNR is situated in the broad valley basin forming the headwaters of the River Fal and its rich natural and industrial heritage can be easily explored via a circular seven mile multi-use trail. During winter, visiting birds include the elegant hen harrier and the thuggish “butcher bird” – the great grey shrike. Summer welcomes nightjar, reed bunting, linnet, spotted flycatcher, bullfinch and song thrush, which all breed here. A number of scarce invertebrates live here too: the small red and variable damselfly; butterflies such as the silver-studded blue, marsh and small pearl bordered fritillary; and moths such as the narrow-bordered bee hawk and double line.

Phil Bowler concluded: “We will have to keep our six new ponies in quarantine for a while before we run them with our bachelor herd. But after six weeks, they will be free to roam throughout their new home and making a real difference to looking after this fantastic wildlife site.”

 –  ENDS  –

Notes to Editors:

1. For more information and photographs contact: Michelle Hawkins, Natural England press officer / 0300 060 1009 /

2. For more information about H.O.P.E Dartmoor Pony Rescue, visit: link  or contact Mary Tyrer:

About Natural England

Dartmoor ponies have played an important role in shaping the internationally important environment of the moor. Natural England is working with works with pony interest groups and statutory bodies to help secure a more viable future for ponies on Dartmoor, and it provides advice and support through the Dartmoor Pony Action Group (PAG).

Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

- We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.
- We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and advising widely on their conservation.
- We run Environmental Stewardship and other green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.
- We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.
- We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them. 

Select a region