Shire Horses Help with Rewilding of Local Green Space

Joey and William assist in project in King George’s Park

The horses pulled mowers and harrows in the park

On 17 and 18 May, shire horses Joey and William, came to King George’s Park in Wandsworth to assist in a rewilding project.

These scheme is being run by Enable and Wandsworth Council in collaboration with Operation Centaur, a working horses group who keep the art of working with rare breed heavy horses alive, through estate conservation, heritage, community projects and equine therapy. The session was attended by local school Southfields Academy, with nearly 40 students being able to come along and see the horses in action, and take part in a Q&A session.

Borough leisure services provider Enable, has been awarded funds as part of a city-based rewilding project, Rewild London. Enable, who manage and look after Wandsworth’s green spaces and parks on behalf of the Council, will apply this funding to King George’s Park. The project is also supported by The Mayor of London, and is being run in partnership with the London Wildlife Trust. The aim is to create wildflower meadows and biodiversity rich woodlands which will act as habitat corridors for pollinators, such as wild bees and butterflies, across the borough.

A total of £600,000 has been granted via the Rewild London Fund to 19 projects across. The 19 rewilding projects across the city will connect 54 of London’s most important places for wildlife – called Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) - and create more natural habitats for plants and animals to thrive.

King George’s Park is the central wildlife corridor within the area – this strip of natural habitat connecting populations of wildlife otherwise separated by the surrounding built environment is a prime location to benefit from this work.

The Rewild London project in Wandsworth seeks to improve the biodiversity value of King George’s Park. This includes wildflower rich neutral grasslands, woodland copses and scrub, including dead wood. The site location is key, as despite being centrally located, this part of the borough has a lack of recent records for pollinators with good hot spots (areas with significant amounts of pollinators) on either side. Pollinators don’t just include butterflies and wild bees, but this also includes , moths, hoverflies, beeflies, soldier beetles and more.

To make these biodiversity improvements, Enable will be reducing the nutrients in the existing grassland using shire horses to pull mowers and harrows. The added bonus is the visiting horse’s hooves make gaps in the grass to allow wildflower seed to establish more efficiently and strongly. Enable will sow the wildflower seed this autumn as well as creating stag beetle loggeries in the woodland.

The rewilding project will run alongside a wider series of community engagement events, titled ‘Welcome to King George’s Park’ that help to facilitate community-nature engagement in Wandsworth.

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May 24, 2022