Working horses join the fight against invasive bracken

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWORKING horses will again play their part in protecting the historic heathland on Chailey Common Local Nature Reserve.

Horses from the Working Horse Trust in Eridge will be at Chailey Common for three days from Friday, June 19, helping to keep bracken under control.

The animals will be used to pull rollers through the bracken in three areas – on Friday, June 19 they will be on Pound Common, on Saturday, June 20 they will be on Romany Ridge and on Sunday, June 21 they will be working on Memorial Common.

“Bracken is extremely invasive and, if left, can smother heathland plants and destroy the habitats of the diverse insect and bird communities which are an integral part of the Local Nature Reserve,” said Jo Heading, senior ranger at East Sussex County Council.

“It is important that we control bracken growth on Chailey Common through our Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England and horsepower will assist us in this.”

Bracken rolling crushes the stems of the plant and weakens its growth. Not only can the horses access areas which heavy machinery cannot, the process causes less damage to the ground than other processes.

During the work, the Trust will be camping on Pound Common on Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20, before moving to the car park at Chailey Sports Ground on Sunday, June 21. During the evening and on rest breaks, the horses will be contained within electric fencing on the common.

Members of the public are asked to take care when walking on the common while the work is taking place.