The Scheme Manager has worked with the National Farmers Union, the Exmoor National Park Authority and the Exmoor Hill Farming Project to bring together the moorland managers of Exmoor to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information and to develop a programme of visits/activities. Several initiatives were supported to enable and inform better moorland management.
In addition to money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, this particular project is generously supported by European funding through Western Somerset Local Action (WSLA) and Leader for Torridge and North Devon (L4TND).
EMLP commissioned an independent, in-depth study about the management of free-living moorland herds of Exmoor Pony with Exmoor National Park. Need was identified based on feedback from moorland herd owners and the main pony conservation organisations. The study was carried out by an expert vet – it has now been completed and a presentation made. The findings present very important implications for management of those herds. Further presentations and meetings will be generated from this, and the report will undoubtedly influence both policy and practical herd breeding strategies on a local and national level.
This project has supported the improvement of Exmoor Pony moorland herd management in several ways: by holding meetings for moorland herd owners; helping the purchase of a mobile handling system that will benefit all the moorland herds; encouraging the training of voluntary herd watchers; and in commissioning the report above. The mobile handling system will be managed by Exmoor Pony Society to benefit the registered moorland herds of Exmoor Pony, and they will be stored close to the moors at the Exmoor Pony Centre in collaboration with the Moorland Mousie Trust.
The project also supported the establishment of the new Anstey Common Association which enables the commoners to better coordinate effort, hold agri-environment agreements, etc.
The 3-year target for events has been surpassed. Activities this year include:
25 April: Supported by EMLP and coordinated by Exmoor Hill Farm Project, another meeting was held for moorland farmers and landowners with the Exmoor Mires Project to discuss mires restoration work, future proposals and the potential development of Payments for Ecosystem Services. Paul Cottington attended, EMLP representative for the NFU.
25 April: The EMLP hosted a training workshop for moorland managers in Exmoor National Park Authority. This included a session at Grabbist Hill with Paul Storey the Minehead area Moorkeeper, discussing moorland issues such as access, litter, swaling, and community relations. Also a session on Porlock Common about the abundance and quality of moorland archaeology and cultivating community involvement in surveying and conservation.
13 June: EMLP and the Exmoor National Park Authority’s own Farm Conservation Advisor and an Ecologist from hosted a workshop on moorland management, for professionals from protected landscapes in Bavaria. Topics included wetland restoration, conservation grazing, visitor management, Exmoor ponies, etc, which included visits to 3 moorland sites, a field visit with the Exmoor Mires Project, and a talk at the Exmoor Pony Centre.
3 July: Study Trip to Pebblebed Heaths for 6 moorland managers. Visits to several sites on the Clinton Devon Estate examined conservation methods and strategies for heathland habitat. Topics included: bracken removal and heather restoration; recovery after wild fires; woodland clearance; visitor pressure; wardens and volunteers; and helping species such as Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Silver-studded Blue and Nightjar.
16 July: Study trip / workshop at Hoar Oak valley to consider management and appreciation of the landscape with regard to view historic environment features, SSSI status, etc.
14 Nov: Workshop at Exmoor House for ENPA staff with Moorkeeper, Paul Storey, considering landscape change and management priorities.
27 Nov: Presentation at Exmoor hill farm conference by Jason Ball and Moorkeeper, Paul Storey. Promotion of the projects with a focus on Moorkeeper role.