The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust, a registered charity based in Devon that is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the Dartmoor pony breed and the Dartmoor landscape, has announced the appointment of Debbie Leach as its new Chief Executive. She will join the charity in July.
Leach was appointed after an extensive recruitment process led by the board of trustees. She is currently the Chief Executive of Thames21, an environmental charity for rivers which she expanded and developed to become a successful multi-faceted NGO, connecting local communities with river landscapes and delivering technical environmental solutions whilst working with stakeholders from academic scientists to government to major companies.
Leach said: “The native heritage pony is an essential part of Dartmoor’s culture and precious natural spaces and I am committed to ensuring that these beautiful animals thrive where they belong, on Dartmoor.
“People love seeing the ponies in their natural environment, but more than that, they also play an important and proven role in helping to tackle the growing nature emergency and loss of wildlife in the UK.
“In localities such as Dartmoor, we have seen how the pony improves the natural environment for wildlife with their natural grazing habits helping to increase biodiversity. This benefit must be investigated and developed further.”
The charity’s chairman Malcom Snelgrove said: “We are delighted that Debbie is joining the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust at such a crucial time for our native Dartmoor ponies. The Board of Trustees are clear that the Trust has a big task ahead and we are dedicated to delivering it.”
The Trust works with local farmers and breeders to protect and preserve the native heritage ponies on Dartmoor – advancing education, raising awareness, participating in research and assisting the development of practical, sustainable herds of heritage ponies that benefit the natural landscapes of Dartmoor.
Leach said: “The Climate Emergency is a priority for all of us and tackling it is vital for our future. Dartmoor has an important natural function that helps to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere. The Heritage Pony can support Dartmoor’s effectiveness by helping the management of key aspects of the Moor’s mosaic of natural environments.”
“This is a critical time for Dartmoor. The people who care about it and the organisations that are responsible for it must all work together and bring their respective skills, experiences and perspectives to make sure that the right decisions are made now. In this way Dartmoor’s capacity and potential to benefit people and heritage, wildlife and the planet, will be accomplished.”
She added: “I first fell in love with Dartmoor when I took my degree at Exeter University, before leaving to pursue a career in the charity sector encompassing educational, environmental and international causes. I am thrilled to be now returning to the area with my partner, who works in farming, to take on such an exciting and worthwhile role and to champion our heritage ponies on Dartmoor.”