Update: Three Exmoor ponies arrived on Monday 2nd June and are now been watched over by a team of volunteer “Lookers” to check on their wellbeing.
Jenny Burch is one of the “Lookers”, she told CrowboroughLife:
As a avid walker on the forest I am well aware of ponies being used to graze the land both in the conservation area and of course on the Pippingford Estate, and many a time come across them.
Once I heard that The Ghyll would be using them to graze, I wanted to become involved as much as I could. There are currently 3 Exmoors grazing on The Ghyll, as the area is not that big to sustain too many. The Town Council has installed a water bowser and of course the fencing and kissing gates.
As a Looker, our main purpose is to check daily on the ponies and to check the fencing is intact, the water supply and general area. Any illnesses or injuries noticed to the ponies is duly reported to the necessary person on call.
I’m extremely happy to be involved and help out, as horses and ponies have figured during my life growing up, and although these ponies cannot be ridden or indeed handled the way a domesticated horse/pony can be, it’s just a lovely way to see them in a natural habitat.
Anyone interested in becoming a Looker should contact Crowborough Conservation via their website or on 01892 663942.
Taken from the Sussex Pony Grazing & Conservation Trust website:
The term ‘Looker’ comes from Old English and literally means ‘one who watches over’. It was historically used to to describe a shepherd or herdsperson and there are references to it’s use in nearby Pevensey Levels. Whilst the animals and circumstances may be slightly different, it is a geographically appropriate term and aptly describes the role our volunteers fulfil.
The Ghyll Local Nature Reserve
For more information see the Town Council website.
Original article from 9th April 2014:
You’ll soon be able to see Exmoor ponies grazing in The Ghyll in Crowborough.
It’s part of an environmental project set up by Crowborough Town Council in partnership with Crowborough Conservation and Sussex Pony Grazing Conservation Trust.
An ecological assessment of two fields adjacent to Jeffrey’s Wood in The Ghyll found they have a very high nature conservation value and are classified as unimproved lowland grassland.
Barry Kemp, Chairman of Crowborough Conservation says:
Over the last 80 years the UK has lost 97% of its species-rich grasslands. This project is a great example of ecologically-sound partnership working. We are contributing six ‘Lookers’ to check on the ponies’ well-being
The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has awarded a £2,000 grant from its Community Landscape Trust to support the project.
Exmoor ponies will graze the herb-rich meadow for about three months each year to control the invasive species. The method is a sustainable way to prevent long-term decline of the quality of the habitat. Other locations where ponies from Sussex Pony Grazing Conservation Trust can be found include Chailey Common and Pippingford Park on the Ashdown Forest.
The site was acquired In 2012 by Crowborough Town Council as part of a parcel of land adjoining Palesgate Lane. The meadow was found to support 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.
Stock fencing has already been erected and a water supply is currently being installed for the ponies.
The three ponies are expected to arrive next month.
Anyone interested in becoming a “Looker” should contact Crowborough Conservation via their website or on 01892 663942.
If you would like to find-out more information about the Sussex Pony Grazing Conservation Trust and support their work, take a look at their new website. The charity has been chosen to be part of Waitrose Community Matters during April. The supermarket will share £1,000 among three good causes according to how shoppers vote using their green tokens.