Horses in Harmony

A bit of positive news for a change, from Reuters, that speaks to what is possible when humankind allows for a restoration of natural harmony:

Wild horses munch desolate marshland back to life

CANTERBURY, England (Reuters) – Close to the cathedral city of Canterbury, wild horses linked to sinister Nazi experiments are helping to bring wildlife and rare birds back to once desolate marshlands.

In an intriguing ecological exercise that could revitalize the countryside, naturalistic grazing is the environmental buzzword — the horses basically munch the marshes back to life.

The hardy Koniks, bred in Poland from the now extinct European Tarpan, are superbly adapted to living on wetlands and revitalize reed beds as they graze.

They were brought to Britain in a project run by the city council in Canterbury and the Wildwood Trust, whose nearby animal discovery park attracts 100,000 visitors a year.

For Peter Smith, the Wildwood Trust’s chief executive, the sturdy and self-reliant Konik is the perfect tool for re-creating a nature reserve on the banks of the River Stour.

Gravel from the 150 acre (60 hectare) area was excavated for building materials up to the 1950s. The land constantly flooded, it was then shored up with chalk but proved uneconomical for agricultural use.

The first 13 horses have already produced four foals, who graze contentedly in the spring sunshine after settling speedily into their new home.

“They are almost like little farmers selecting the plants they want. There is harmony between the plants and the animals who have evolved together over millions of years. Man has taken away this harmony,” Smith said. [full text]