A PROJECT to introduce native broadleaf trees to support local wildlife around Bodmin Moor is being supported by a four-legged friend.

South West Water is working at Park Pit to remove existing non-native trees from the site and replace them with native broadleaf species such as oak, hazel and rowan that offer much greater benefits to wildlife.

In total, over 3,000 trees have been planted, creating new woodland in the process.

As part of this work, the company has enlisted the help of a specialist firm and its 17-year-old shire horse Jackson to remove trees and transport them around the site - without using heavy machinery which can damage existing vegetation.

Horse logging is an ancient art dating back thousands of years to medieval times. Heavy horses like Jackson are well suited to the work due to their agility, temperament and incredible strength – they can weigh over 1,000 kg.

Hannah Bailey, biodiversity action officer at South West Water, said: “Using horses in this way offers many benefits over machinery. They have a low environmental impact and their lighter footprint helps to preserve ecosystems.

“Horses can also navigate through dense forests without causing as much damage to the surrounding vegetation compared to heavy equipment. That’s why they were the perfect fit for our biodiversity works at Park Pit.”

Jackson works alongside Toby Lawler from Wild Arborist Horse Logging, a company specialising in low-impact approaches tending to trees and woodlands.

The welfare, safety and happiness of the horses is their top priority, with shifts never lasting more than two hours at a time. They will do a maximum of three shifts per day and never work more than one or two days in a row.

Toby said: “It's a privilege to continue this traditional practice, and our aim is to showcase the commercial viability of blending both horse and machine power to promote and grow this sustainable forestry practice.

“We would like to thank South West Water for the opportunity to utilise our specialist forestry skills to complete the project at Park Pit.”