Milton Keynes parks trust introduces ponies to help nature reserve management and restoration

The Parks Trust, Milton Keynes, is introducing wild Konik ponies to graze its Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve this month.

Konic ponies will help manage the land. Image: The Parks Trust
Konic ponies will help manage the land. Image: The Parks Trust

Four of the animals, bought from the National Trust, will graze the nature reserve grasslands, eating grasses, reeds, waterside plants and shrubs and helping create and maintain a diverse landscape. They close crop some grassland areas while leaving others untouched, leading to a better environment for biodiversity.

The breed is an ideal grazer in wetland sites with benefits such as self-trimming hooves. Konik ponies have a very calm and placid temperament and are not easily frightened. However they will be left alone as much as possible as the Trust wants to preserve their wildness as much as is practicable. They will be visually inspected daily and more closely looked at once a week.

The introduction of the Konik ponies is part of The Parks Trust’s on-going aim to return the area to resemble what it might have looked like more than 5,000 years ago – a wildlife-rich floodplain forest.

Horses like these may have inhabited the Ouse Valley many thousands of years ago. They originate from eastern Europe but in recent decades have become increasingly popular in UK conservation and will be joined by a few cattle later in the year.

The ponies will be resident for most of the year and will only be moved out in times of flooding or if they are needed to graze elsewhere.

Biodiversity officer Martin Kincaid said: "We are really excited to be able to introduce these magnificent animals to Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve. It has long been our desire to introduce ponies to this site and we believe that the nature reserve will really benefit from having these animals grazing."

The trust manages and maintains more than 2428 hectares of Milton Keynes’ green space. It is advising visitors not to approach or feed the ponies and keep dogs on leads.

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