Faceook Parkbos - Two rare Sorraias on the right

Rare Sorraia horses guarantee biodiversity in Ghent woodlands

Rare Sorraia horses can now be seen grazing in the Park Wood (Parkbos) in Ghent (East Flanders).  The horses form part of a new biodiversity drive aimed at retaining more plants and animals through a different approach to woodland management.

Ghent is eager to manage its woodlands in a different way. The city of Ghent uses horses and donkeys to guarantee biodiversity in the woodland. 

“Mowing the grass means insects and plants could disappear.  Horses and donkeys are more selective in what they eat and they ensure more nature survives” says forester Jean Pierre Nicaise.  “The greater the variety in the landscape, the more animals that can live there.”

Jean Pierre believes it’s above all insects that will benefit from the new management technique. 

“They need the pieces of land where plants can blossom.  These are the rougher areas where they can shelter.  Birds too make use of such areas.  It’s where they find food for their nests”.

Two rare Sorraia horses are used to do the grazing.  Sorraia horses are related to American mustang horses and may be found across the globe, but their numbers are very low.  Only 200 Sorraia horses are thought to be alive. Sorraias are light brown Iberian horses with a black stripe along their back.  They need an awful lot of space and are not used to visitors.

It was Christopher Columbus, who took horses of this breed to the Americas during his voyage of exploration.  DNA research has shown that American mustang horses are related to Sorraias.

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