Bovey Castle – Outdoor Art Exhibition

Spirit of Dartmoor

Visit the Outdoor Art Exhibition at Bovey Castle

Visit the Outdoor Art Exhibition at Bovey Castle. Wander the gardens of Bovey Castle Hotel and view my personally selected images. These images are specially printed on High Definition Aluminum Metal Print. This durable, premium product is robust yet elegant, weather, and water-resistant. It is suited for outdoor areas, as well as indoors, including bathrooms.

This Outdoor Art Exhibition, in partnership with Bovey Castle, showcases my images of Dartmoor Ponies within their natural environment. It tells the important story of the benefits of Dartmoor Ponies on the Moor for the protection of biodiversity, natural habitats, and wildlife.

All artwork is available for sale in my online shop, so you can bring a piece of Dartmoor to your home.

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Endangered Native Pony Breed Protecting Wildlife & Biodiversity

Dartmoor’s native ponies are not just beautiful; they are an endangered breed with only 300-500 left. They play a key role in protecting the breeding sites of red-listed species of birds and butterflies. By reducing the dominance of Molinia caerulea (purple moor grass), they encourage the germination of Calluna vulgaris (heather) and other native plants in Dartmoor National Park.

The Dartmoor ponies play a vital conservation grazing role. They work hard to reduce the invasive purple moor grass, which quickly smothers native plants like common heather. This grazing increases the occurrence of bare ground and the germination of heather seedlings.

Conservation Benefits

This grazing helps reduce the risk of moorland fires by lowering the sward surface height. The ponies' hoof prints also help retain moisture in the area, encouraging the return of amphibians. The presence of amphibians attracts more raptors to the area. Invasive purple moor grass negatively impacts plant and animal diversity on conservation sites. Once established, it quickly takes over and smothers most other plants.

A herd of endangered Dartmoor Heritage Ponies managed by Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust is used to reduce Molinia and improve biodiversity within a 425-hectare site at Bellever Tor in Dartmoor National Park. We have seen a dramatic improvement in biodiversity and wildlife around Bellever Tor.

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Why does it matter...

  • Britain’s heather-dominated upland heaths are internationally important for nature conservation. They support a range of specialist invertebrate and bird species. Despite being a Priority Habitat, upland heaths have been in decline since the 1950s.
  • Increased nitrogen deposition and rainfall have led to a boom in invasive Molinia grass. This grass stops native heather in its tracks. It grows fast in early spring and out-competes heather seedlings by late spring. In autumn and winter, it forms a dense mat that smothers other heathland plants.
  • Traditional cutting and managed burning regimes damage heathers and create less structural diversity.
  • Cattle and ponies both prefer eating grasses, but ponies eat Molinia more than sheep and cattle do. Ponies also eat heather less than sheep and cattle.
  • Horses don’t tolerate the tannins in the heather as well as other grazing animals.
Dartmoor Pony Foals at Play
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The at Bellever on Dartmoor...

  • On Bellever alone, Dartmoor ponies brought about a 31-fold increase in the number of common heather seedlings and a 9% reduction in the percentage cover of Molinia grass.
  • The ponies reduced the average height of Molinia tussocks and significantly increased the percentage of vital bare ground.
  • There were significantly more Calluna (heather) seedlings on grazed plots, and 79% of mature heather plants appeared healthy compared to 43% in non-grazed plots.
  • The return of over 10 red and amber-listed bird species.
  • An increase in reptiles and amphibians, with the ponies creating one of the best diverse habitats on Dartmoor for wildlife.
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