Five Exmoor ponies will spend the summer grazing the heathland at Trinity Hill Local Nature Reserve

Council uses native British ponies to improve Trinity Hill wildlife habitat for the benefit of a wide range of local species

Five Exmoor ponies are spending the summer and autumn grazing heathland at Trinity Hill near Axminster to bring new life to this area through conservation grazing. The ponies are on loan from the RSPB in Aylesbeare, who look after the animals during the winter.

East Devon Conservation Volunteers worked with East Devon District Council Countryside ranger, Nathan Robinson to prepare the site for the ponies. They have created fenced compartments, which will be grazed in rotation. The ponies will be checked daily throughout their time at the reserve to ensure they are healthy and have enough food and water.

The ponies are fenced off to ensure the safety of the public and all the grazing areas have been designed so that they do not obstruct any existing pathways. The public are however reminded to keep dogs under close control during this period to avoid any conflict with the livestock or the ground nesting birds that make Trinity Hill their home during summer.

Anyone interested in seeing the ponies grazing are welcome to come and observe them.

Trinity Local Nature Reserve is an area of lowland heath situated two miles South East of Axminster, with wonderful views overlooking Axminster and the Axe Valley. The site is managed by East Devon District Council’s Countryside team throughout the year for the benefit of a wide range of wildlife.

Cllr Tom Wright, East Devon District Council’s Environment portfolio holder, said:

Grazing animals, such as the ponies, at Trinity Hill helps to restore the rare heathland habitat, which supports a diverse range of species including adders, lizards, butterflies and the elusive nightjar. The work of the Countryside team and their volunteers helps to keep East Devon’s environment outstanding for people and wildlife to enjoy.

East Devon Countryside Ranger, Nathan Robinson said:

Livestock grazing forms part of a sustainable approach to habitat management at Trinity Hill and has been a vital component of heathland management throughout history. The selective grazing of vegetation helps to create a variety of ecological niches with diverse wildlife.

After the success of grazing the site for the past three years, we are hoping to expand into new areas of the reserve. As well as being popular with members of the public and the many families who explore Trinity Hill, the ponies play a crucial role in protecting the special heathland habitat that is home to a variety of nationally rare wildlife.

For more information on the work of the Countryside team across East Devon sites please visit eastdevoncountryside.co.uk or contact the countryside team via email: countryside@eastdevon.gov.uk or call: 01395 517557.