Heavy horses are being used as part of a biodiversity pilot project to restore an area of land which forms part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at a water treatment works at Hawkley, Hampshire.
Owned by South East Water, the land is being cleared of large mature conifer trees which have been blocking the light to the forest floor needed for plants to flourish.
They will be replaced with 300 saplings, native not only to this country but also to the surrounding woodland, restoring it to its former beauty. The new trees will also help to increase the capture of carbon in the immediate area.
The team of horse-loggers has been pulling together to remove 30 large Douglas fir and Scots pine trees. It is hoped that the work will encourage the return of bluebells, dog’s mercury and yellow archangel.
Alex Stephens, South East Water’s Environmental Performance Officer, said: “There are a number of major benefits in using heavy horses to carry out this work instead of large machinery. The horses have less impact on the ground and don’t leave large ruts and damage to plants. They also help with soil carbon retention, leaving a healthier soil.
“As a water company protecting and conserving our natural environment, particularly around our water treatment works, is really important to us and a high priority in our day-to-day operations.
“This is all part of our long-term commitment to the environment as one of 10 biodiversity pilot projects we have been carrying out over the past five years as part of the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP).”
Owner of the horses Daniel Brown said: “It is recognised that by using horses to pull cut timber out of our ancient forests and woodlands in this way plays a vital role in maintaining and managing their long-term health.”