Thursday, June 20, 2024

Heavy horses brings light relief

Sometimes old technology is best, and Thurrock Council is doing exactly that to enhance the green environment at Hangman’s Wood in Grays.

The wood — at Socketts Heath, between Stanford Road, Woodview and King Edward Drive — is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The council wants to do all it can to ensure the correct environment for the bats (which gives the site its SSSI status), its plants which support insects that feed the bats and to help the whole eco system.

The use of tractors to pull mowers to keep the grass cut along the wood’s many paths adds to the compaction of the soil and badly impacts on the eco-system, preventing rainwater and minerals from leaching down to the tree roots, stunting their growth or, in the worst case, killing them.

Last year Thurrock brought in Hawthorn Heavy Horses based at Hylands House, Chelmsford, and Holly, a 16-year-old Suffolk Punch, historically used in Essex and East Anglia due to its ability to deal with the heavy soil. This proved such a success, visitors to the wood have seen Holly in action again this year.

Holly is cutting the grass rides through the woodland and her “emissions” are good for biodiversity unlike vehicle exhausts so that helps promote healthy plants and therefore insects, bats and birds too.


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