Horsepower helps to protect Chailey Common Local Nature Reserve

Bracken-bashing: Ellie-May and Hamish get stuck-in to unwanted growth on Chailey Common
Bracken-bashing: Ellie-May and Hamish get stuck-in to unwanted growth on Chailey Common

Two gentle giants have been helping to keep invasive bracken at bay on Chailey Common Local Nature Reserve.

Mighty Ardennes horses Ellie-May and her half-brother Hamish played their part in protecting the historic heathland over the weekend.

The pair, from the Working Horse Trust in Eridge, helped to pull rollers through the bracken at three areas.

Jo Heading, senior ranger at East Sussex County Council, said: “It is important that we control bracken growth on Chailey Common through our Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England. The plant is very invasive and, if left to grow unchecked, can block footpaths, smother other heathland plants and destroy the habitats of the diverse insect and bird communities which are an integral part of the Local Nature Reserve.

“Bracken rolling will crush the stems of the plant and weaken its growth. Not only can the horses access areas which heavy machinery cannot, the process causes less damage to the ground than if we were to cut the bracken.”

Work took place over three days at Pound Common, Romany Ridge and Memorial Common. While in progress, the Trust camped in a large horse box and caravan on Pound Common and at the car park at Chailey Sports Ground. The horses were contained within electric fencing on the common in the evenings and on rest breaks.