Bellever 12 YEARS
BELLEVER 12 YEARS – Managing our conservation site
Since 2008 the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust has been managing 82ha of Moorland surrounding the majestic Bellever Tor within a 450ha holding, near Postbridge. We have a Higher-Level Stewardship and Educational Access Agreement with Natural England and are tenants to Forestry England.
We combine supporting pony keepers with demonstrating the benefits of equines as grazing tools. We offer free grazing and care for a herd of up to 26 Dartmoor Ponies from several farmers. The herd helps to keep archaeological sites clear, making a huge impact on hectares of vegetation and opening up the land for more species to flourish and for visitors to enjoy.
Our herd of Dartmoor Ponies are an effective part of the land management ‘toolbox’. Cattle, sheep and ponies have different mouths and graze in a different way. Ponies have two sets of incisors, can nibble and bite but also grind with strong molars. They thrive with a varied diet and are happy on the moor all year. They stamp on old stems of gorse to make it easier to eat and love the young shoots; they trample the bracken; nibble away at dense bramble and push into areas that other animals would not wish to go. They graze on the ever-more-invasive Molinia (purple moor grass) which turns the landscape into a straw-coloured, dense environment that is not suitable for other grazers. They’ll eat the sweeter grass all year round but in winter/early spring, when they are having to work hard at finding nourishment, they will push in to this growth and help to keep it under control so that better quality grazing and other plants can come through. This activity, along with dunging and constant movement, opens up paths and allows more light to then create habitats that encourage other plants to grow and provide a food source for insects.The DPHT’s remit is to inform and educate the public; not only about the ponies and their roles on Dartmoor, but about Dartmoor’s heritage and its importance in terms of the environment and biodiversity, with a particular emphasis now being its role to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Our activities are intended to help educate people about many aspects of Dartmoor, as well as to encourage visitors to value our heritage, respect and appreciate what Dartmoor has to offer now and into the future.
At Bellever we provide more free Guided Walks than any other organisation on Dartmoor and we have volunteers carrying out conservation work every month. This includes maintenance of areas around existing archaeological sites and partnering with the Dartmoor National Park Authority to uncover and record new ones. This work is for the long-term benefit of the public and the preservation of Dartmoor’s heritage and history.
To find out more about volunteering or other opportunities with the DPHT please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bellever and Lakehead are recognised as having both high biodiversity value and significant archaeological interest, while also offering valuable educational access.
The below links to the
results from our first bird survey of the year – excellent results to date
Note high numbers of
Tree Pipit and new Winchat territories – red listed moorland bird species!
Our management plan
is working even against heavy visitor numbers, dogs and campers. The number of
glades we cut in last winter and the ongoing pony grazing are continuing to
improve the extent of biodiversity on site.