Broads lovers and pony fans can help look after both with a brand new scheme to support fenland grazing ponies.
Pony Power is being launched at the Broads Authority’s annual open morning this Saturday at Whitlingham Country Park and kicks off the 16-day Outdoors Festival.
It will give people a chance to contribute to the management of the ponies which, with their sensitive grazing patterns, help maintain fenland around the Broads.
The scheme promotes and celebrates 20 years of conservation management using ponies on the Broads fens. In return for a £20 donation members of the public will receive pony news, gifts – including a cute miniature plush pony – and special information.
The Broads Authority has a 25-strong pony team grazing six fenland sites. Made up of Konik and Welsh Mountain ponies the discerning diners are preferable to modern mowers. They feed on coarse grass, rushes and smaller fine-leaved sweet vegetation but, unlike mowers, leave the more wildlife-friendly plants and flowers alone.
Sue Stephenson, Environment Officer for the Broads Authority, said: “The ponies do an amazing job, munching on vegetation and in return managing our beautiful Broads habitat. There are some interesting characters and watching them interact is often entertaining.
“As many of our sites are tucked away and off the beaten track, people may not be aware that the ponies are part of our workforce.
“Pony Power provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness about this element of our conservation work and with this year marking 20 years of pony ownership for us, it is an ideal time to celebrate and promote conservation grazing.
“The ponies perform an important function but it is the individual characters make the ponies great to work with.
“We have the greedy pony that is easy to move because he is always after the next blade of grass, the savvy one who always knows where to run to avoid being rounded up and the playful one who often kicks her heels up for no apparent reason!”
Anyone wanting to join the scheme or just find out more can visit www.broads-authority.gov.uk/looking-after/managing-land-and-water/pony-power
Friday 6 May 2016