The Donkey Sanctuary is celebrating being awarded Higher Level Stewardship status by Natural England. The grant has been secured for the next 10 years through Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme and will help develop a number of projects including protecting foraging for rare bat species, managing species-rich grassland and restoring hedgerows of very high environmental value.
The award will also help the charity to develop its environmental education program in local schools and the provision of four wildlife trails for visitors to the Sidmouth headquarters to explore the rich woodland and farmland wildlife.
Annie Brown, general farm manager at The Donkey Sanctuary says, “As General Farm Manager of the eight UK Donkey Sanctuary farms I have always encouraged the Farm Managers to use environmentally friendly farming practices, for example: by providing buffer zones for wildlife on our hay making fields and ensuring that the hedges are not trimmed while the birds are nesting. We are absolutely delighted to have been accepted for Higher Level Stewardship; confirming that The Donkey Sanctuary’s farming practices are not only good for the donkeys but great for the Devonshire countryside. Some of the grant will be used for pond restoration and woodland management which will be of benefit to the local wildlife.”
James Chubb, wildlife expert at The Donkey Sanctuary says, “It’s great to combine donkey welfare with protecting habitats for wildlife and the HLS scheme is an indicator of how special our farms are for wildlife too.”
“The HLS scheme will enable us to build upon current ecological projects, such as protecting grassland for Greater Horseshoe Bat foraging, while also developing a raft of new initiatives to ensure our farms continue to have the highest possible environmental quality.”
“One of the most exciting of these new projects will be the restoration of a former grassland County Wildlife Site at Paccombe Farm. In this case it will be the donkeys and mules coming to the rescue of some very important wild flower species, by helping us to keep invasive scrub under control and return this spot to its former glory.”
“We hope to make The Donkey Sanctuary an environmental hotspot for visitors to enjoy both our donkeys and farmland wildlife.”