Written by HeatherS on 16th October 2023
In Spain, free roaming wild horses are being used as the latest line of defence against fires. For centuries, the Iberian Highlands were grazed by various species of horse, who were used for agricultural but allowed to roam freely when not working. The decline of traditional agriculture led to rural depopulation and land abandonment resulting in the landscape becoming overgrown with vegetation that contributed to more intense and faster-spreading wildfires.
The Przewalski horses are thought to be the world’s last wild horses, but had gone extinct in the wild in Europe and Asia.
Now a small population has been re-introduced to 6000 hectares of public forest with the hope that they will reduce the volume of combustible vegetation in the landscape, enhance biodiversity and slow down the spread of wildfires.
A project with similar aims has already been put in place on the Hill of Howth, in Dublin, using an endangered breed of native goats rather than horses.