Rare Suffolk Punch takes Norfolk estate’s parkland back to its roots - National Trust

a horse with a harness pulling logs followed by a person
Rare Suffolk Punch pulling a tree log on the Oxburgh Estate, Norfolk | © National Trust / Mike Selby

A pair of rare breed horses are helping to take the parkland at the National Trust’s Oxburgh Estate in Norfolk back to its roots by turning a 50-year-old pine tree plantation into a haven for wildlife.

The striking horses – a Suffolk and an Ardennes Comtoise cross - will help make space for native broadleaf trees and create new habitats for butterflies and birds by opening up the area’s dense canopy and increasing flora biodiversity.

Using horses and specialist equipment to drag the pine logs out of the plantation ensures minimal disruption to the local soil and wildlife located throughout the current pine plantation, as their unshod hooves allow for a less invasive distribution of weight compared to heavy logging machinery.

The area of the pine plantation, which was planted in the 1970s for timber production, will be repopulated with native mixed broadleaves including hazel, oak, walnut, and sweet chestnut to increase the woodland’s resilience to climate change and disease, helping to lessen the risk of trees being wiped out by one single illness and preventing severe damage like that caused by ash dieback.

Tom Day, the National Trust’s Area Ranger for Oxburgh Estate said: “This is a crucial time for us to double down on our parkland conservation efforts. Right now, the area of the pine plantation is severely lacking in biodiversity and contains 50 per cent less wildlife than in the rest of our woodlands. By repopulating it with mixed broadleaf trees, we not only increase the structural diversity of the woodlands which will help maintain them for the long-term, but also vastly improve the quality of the habitat to attract more species and more diverse wildlife.”

Find out more about the art of horselogging in an article from British Horse Loggers here 

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Posted On: 23/01/2023

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