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151014 | Ponies have returned to the Towans in Hayle for conservation work | The Cornishman


Ponies have returned to the Towans in Hayle for conservation work

By CMKirsteSmith | Posted: October 14, 2015

Photo by Natural England

Ponies on the Mexico Towans last year

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SHETLAND and Dartmoor ponies are returning to the Towans near Hayle for the next few weeks to carry on their conservation work

In a scheme supervised by Natural England, for the fourth year the ponies are returning to the Towans to help to reduce the amount of scrub vegetation, which is threatening to engulf the areas of flower-rich grassland

Conservation grazing by Dartmoor ponies has been undertaken on sections of the Towans since 2002 with the support of Cornwall Council and Natural England

Since 2012 the area grazed by the ponies has been extended as part of a conservation and enhancement scheme of habitat management supported by a Natural England and involving local landowners

A spokesperson from Natural England said: "The ponies, which were drafted directly from Dartmoor by the Dartmoor Pony Trust, are managed by a local grazier and they have recently returned to the Towans for the autumn and winter months

"The grazing is undertaken outside of the seasons when the majority of visitors visit the area to minimise the impact on local walkers and visitors alike

"The Dartmoor pony is a breed of animal whose survival is at risk as numbers have declined, they are very well regarded as a conservation grazing animal due to its hardiness, adaptability and ability to successfully graze native grasslands and to browse on shrub and scrub species"

The Towans area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the special character of the dune grasslands and plant species that occur there, including dune fescue, wild thyme, western clover, sand cat's tail, yellow bartsia, pyramidal orchid and southern marsh orchids

Natural England

Bird's-foot trefoil in flower at Lethlean and Phillack, in June 2015 after ponies grazed there the previous winter

Dune grassland is a scarce natural habitat in Cornwall and grazing by Dartmoor ponies has been introduced to increase and enhance the amount of short turf on the Towans, which is home to many of the rarer specialist plant species that require these conditions to thrive

The work to manage the scrub has been taken on by members of the recently formed Friends of Towans group as well as by specialist contractors. The Friends of Towans group meets regularly to undertake conservation tasks and host local events on the site

For more information about the 'Friends of the Towans' or the Towans Partnership, you can contact the Towans Ranger Martin Rule on 07854 123877 or go to


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