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Wildlife Trust calls on helping hoof for environmental work at Saltbox Hill

PUBLISHED: 16:27 24 March 2016 | UPDATED: 16:27 24 March 2016

Tookie, Daniel and Jessica on Saltbox Hill

Tookie, Daniel and Jessica on Saltbox Hill

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Timber work was carried out on March 22

Cutting logs for Tookie to drag at Saltbox HillCutting logs for Tookie to drag at Saltbox Hill

A workhorse which once pulled a double decker bus has been called in to preserve one of Bromley’s most beautiful ecosystems.

Six-year-old Comtois, Tookie, hauled heavy timber in the Spring sunshine at London Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve in Biggin Hill.

Raised in the Alps, the Surrey-based horse came to haul heavy timber with owners Daniel and Jessica Brown.

On March 22, Tookie helped tow two felled ash trees, from the bottom of the hill to the top.

Tookie with owners, staff and volunteers at Saltbox HillTookie with owners, staff and volunteers at Saltbox Hill

The trust are planning to carve the trees into benches, which will be placed overlooking the North Downs valley which reportedly inspired Charles Darwin.

Owner Jessica said: “Tookie is very strong but quite small, which makes him an ideal logging horse.

“He does a lot of timber work but also pulls carriages and even took part in last year’s Lord Mayor’s Show in London, hauling a double decker bus.”

Owner Daniel explained why using a horse is better for the land they were working on.

He said: “Machinery would have a heavy impact on the land. Using a horse such as Tookie to drag logs means we can leave a better surface behind, as well as being a greener method.

“A lot of these horses have come back into the woods over the last few years to help move logs in confined areas.”

Saltbox hill is considered a site of special scientific interest, with more than 30 recorded species of butterfly.

Species present include the scarce chalkhill blue, grizzled skipper and dark-green fritillary.

With funding of £15,022 from The Veolia Environmental Trust, awarded through the Landfill Communities Fund, staff and local volunteers are working to conserve the Hill’s rare chalk grassland that is home to many rare species of wildflower and grasses.

Executive director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, Paul Taylor, said: “It is great to hear that this project to restore this important habitat is going well. I hope Tookie is having a well-earned rest after doing his bit for nature and the environment in Greater London.”

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