horses are helping to restore habitats|
The South East is charging
ahead into the 21st Century as fast as anywhere.
But there is one part
of the South East which is going backwards in time - by about 7,000 years.
Out investigates how two areas of wilderness are being restored to their original
state thanks to the reintroduction of wild animals.
Stodmarsh near Canterbury
is an extraordinary part of Kent. It's a National Nature Reserve, as is Ham Fen
Both these places are owned and run on our behalf by English
English Nature wants to restore them to their original state -
to how they were about 7,000 years ago.
Back in time
these places back to that moment in time involves horses. Coincidentally, Stodmarsh
was originally called Stud Marsh.
But these are not just any old horses.
These are wild horses, specially imported by English Nature, the Kent Wildlife
Trust and Wildwood Wildlife Park.
They do the job of restoring habitats
simply by eating the grass and reeds to stop the woody scrub building up.
horses are the new conservationists|
Without them the wetland
would dry up and become woodland.
Normally the conservation organisations
would use heavy machinery to keep down the vegetation. But now the horses do it
for them the natural way.
These horses come from Holland, and they are
genetically the closest thing to wild horses that roamed across England 7,000
The Dutch have been breeding them for the same purpose in their
Three and a half years ago Inside Out travelled with the
horses as they made their journey from the continent over to Kent.
Today, the horses are flourishing. Nine were originally introduced to Stodmarsh
and seven have been born here.
of this bit of countryside in Kent is going as planned.
Beaver - helping habitats in the fen lands|
The wild horses
have eaten their way through the reed beds leaving behind a flooded field - a
brand new habitat for wildlife, all thanks to the animals' voracious appetite.
But wild horses aren't the only animals involved in this project.
have also been to Norway to catch Beaver and bring them back to Kent.
And over the last four years the Beavers have left their mark in Ham Fen.
have created channels which help wildlife. Beaver also help to hydrate the land,
allowing other animals to flourish.
Wild Boar and Water Voles
well as the horses, another animal needed to take the woodland back to its original
state is the Wild Boar.
Boar were hunted to extinction in England about
300 years ago, but they arrived back comparatively recently.
return the woodland to its natural state in several ways. They destroy non-native
trees by rubbing against them for years on end.
Boar - back to help with conservation|
They also eat acorns
and other seeds which are then spread around the wood when they pop out of the
pigs' other end.
They also help the seeds to germinate by rooting in the
undergrowth and loosening up the earth, and they root out and destroy non natural
plants like rhododendron.
Another creature which is helping the land to
go back in time is the Water Vole - Britain's most endangered mammal.
a result of these animals, there are a couple of bits of Kent left that remain
natural havens - Stodmarsh and Ham Fen.
And if these two places end up
just how they were 7,000 years ago, we can thank the Wild Boar, the Water Voles,
the Beavers, and one group of very special wild horses.
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