Sussex Pony Grazing Conservation Trust logo
Wildlife conservation of local downland and heathland

Sussex Pony Grazing & Conservation Trust - SPGCT

The purpose of the Trust is to assist with the conservation of native flora and fauna by undertaking large-scale extensive grazing with hardy Exmoor ponies.  

Our key aims and objectives are:   

  • To provide a sustainable approach to the effective management of protected chalk grassland and lowland heathland, using targeted grazing to reverse or limit further loss and degradation of these important habitats.

  • To advise and assist landowners, governmental bodies and NGOs, in the planning, delivery and management of grazing for ecological benefit.

  • To foster relationships with local communities, volunteers and the wider public to further promote the benefits of conservation grazing.

  • To increase awareness of the inherent and economic value of biodiversity and the cultural and landscape heritage of the Sussex countryside. 

  • To support and promote the 'endangered' native rare breed Exmoor pony.   

Substantial areas of the chalk grassland and lowland heathland in Sussex are now in ‘unfavourable condition’, as defined by the government’s countryside advisor, Natural England. Our targeted grazing of SSSI sites is often as part of efforts to meet the objective of restoring land to ‘favourable’ condition. SSSI work is largely funded through joint EU and Government-financed agri-environmental grant schemes. Our activity is consistent with several UK Habitat Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) for the above habitats.

We are an independent charitable trust so graze in liaison with and on behalf of other organisations, including Natural England, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, East Sussex County Council, National Trust, RSPB, Sussex Police Authority, Sussex Wildlife Trust and private landowners. Funding is provided by charitable trusts, grants, donations and grazing fees.

The Trust is heavily reliant on volunteers to carry out its work, with as many as 100 'lookers' spread across the county, ensuring the daily welfare of our ponies at all our sites.

The management is presided over by a committee and board of trustees and the day-to-day running carried out by the Grazing Co-ordinator, under contract to the Trust. 

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Background


The SPGCT was established in 2004 as the independent successor to the Sussex Downs Conservation Board's (SDCB) Exmoor Pony Project. The original project was set up in 1999 to assist with the conservation of parts of the eastern South Downs. It was managed by staff member, Monty Larkin, who recruited a team of volunteers to support the work. When a decision was taken by the the SDCB in 2004 to discontinue the grazing, Monty and the volunteer team decided to take over ownership of the herd (then 27 ponies) to continue and expand the good work. The SPGCT is still managed by Monty as Grazing Co-ordinator today with the continued support of many of the original volunteers.

 

Monty with the herd at Birling Gap, 2014.

Sussex Pony Grazing and Conservation Trust

Trustees

CHAIRMAN

Tony Clarke

TREASURER

Alison Smith

 

Mike Squires

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other committee members

GRAZING CO-ORDINATOR

Monty Larkin

 SECRETARY

Clare McCullough

 

Lisa Clarke

 

Linda Ball

 

Anna Bogg

 

 

 

REGISTERED OFFICE
Langmead, 1 Farm Approach, Brickhouse Lane, South Godstone, RH9 8JW.
Charity number: 1108065 Company number: 5206972

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