Wild horses are to inhabit an inner city nature reserve in an innovative bid to help the environment.

Canterbury City Council, together with Wildwood Trust has imported a herd of wild horses onto a Whitehall Meadows, a grazing marsh on the river Stour, just five minutes walk from Canterbury high street.

“It is a bit unkempt at the moment and these horses will manage it,” commented Steve James from Canterbury City Council.

The horses are Koniks from Holland, the closest living relatives of the extinct Tarpan forest horses that roamed Britain in prehistoric times. It is hoped that by grazing on the marshland, the horses will help restore Canterbury’s precious nature reserve.

“The council is very pleased about this,” said Mr James. “We are committed to the conservation of the natural environment. Grazing by the horses will improve habitat for plants and animals and provide an opportunity for people to see the wild horses less than one kilometre from the city centre.”

Whitehall Meadows is one of seven local nature reserves owned and managed by the city council. If the scheme is successful Mr James confirms wild horses could be moved onto to the other nature reserves.