Exmoor Ponies have arrived at Palesgate Lane, Crowborough where they will help with the traditional management of the ecologically-important wildflower meadow. They will graze the herb-rich lowland meadow for three months of the year – a method of controlling the encroaching invasive species that has worked effectively at other locations.
"Over the last 80 years the UK has lost 97% of its species-rich grasslands," says Barry Kemp, chairman of Crowborough Conservation. "This project is a great example of ecologically-sound partnership working. We are contributing six 'Lookerers' to check on the Ponies' well-being. Anyone interested in becoming a Lookerer should contact Crowborough Conservation via our website or on 01892 663942."
This area of meadow, set in the heart of the High Weald, was acquired in 2012 by Crowborough Town Council as part of a parcel of land adjoining Palesgate Lane. An ecological assessment of the site found that it supports a rich variety of flora and fauna - flowers that include Common Knapweed and Common Birds-foot-trefoil, as well as good populations of reptiles and small mammals. Herb-rich lowland such as this is a national Biodiveristy Action Plan (BAP) priority habitat.
The High Weald AONB Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) has awarded a £2000 grant from its Community Landscape Fund to support the environmental project which has been set up by Crowborough Town Council in partnership with Crowborough Conservation and the Sussex Pony Grazing Conservation Trust. The grant has contributed towards secure fencing around the site which has made the grazing possible.
The High Weald JAC's is currently welcoming new applications to the Community Landscape Fund.