National Trust will introduce livestock to the Dorset nature reserve

UK’s First ‘Super’ Nature Reserve to Allow Unrestricted Grazing for Livestock

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Pigs and cattle, among other livestock, will have the freedom to roam and graze unrestricted on the National Trust’s inaugural ‘super national nature reserve’ located in Dorset.

In an initiative undertaken three years ago, the National Trust designated the Purbeck Heaths as England’s inaugural “Super NNR,” aiming to transform the region into an “open grazing savannah.”

Covering approximately half of the Super NNR, the newly established ‘savannah’ will encompass a 1,370-hectare expanse, providing a habitat for ponies, pigs, cattle, and deer to graze freely. Among the livestock, National Trust plans to introduce about 200 Red Devon cattle and Mangalitsa pigs.

Back in March 2020, a coalition of seven organizations, including National Trust and Natural England, came together with the aim of interconnecting 3,400 hectares of habitats to safeguard the local ecosystems. This collaborative effort led to the establishment of the Purbeck Super NNR.

Comprising a diverse blend of lowland wet and dry heath, valley mires, acid grassland, woodland, coastal sand dunes, lakes, and saltmarsh, the super reserve emerges as one of the most biodiverse locations in the United Kingdom.

Within its boundaries, a multitude of wildlife species find residence, including all six native reptiles: adder, grass snake, slow worm, sand lizard, smooth snake, and viviparous lizard.

According to a National Trust spokesperson, the ponies, pigs, and cattle are inquisitive creatures that actively navigate the terrain, engaging in various forms of browsing and soil disruption.

“By doing so, we’re fostering the development of novel and enhanced habitats for diverse species, akin to the activities of their predecessors. While we can’t reintroduce aurochs, the indigenous forebears of our domestic cattle, our herd of 200 Red Devon cattle can mirror their grazing and behavior patterns. Likewise, Exmoor ponies emulate the behavior of the extinct tarpan horses, and the distinctive Mangalitsa pigs, with their curly coats, engage in activities reminiscent of wild boars.”

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