The Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Government has committed to its iconic – and now endangered – heritage animal by issuing a 50-year agricultural lease of Crown land for the creation of the Newfoundland Pony Heritage Park.

The 25-acre parcel, near Hopeall, Trinity Bay, on the province’s east coast, will be used by the Newfoundland Pony Society to preserve and protect the breed. This year, work will begin on rehabilitation of existing buildings, fencing and land improvements. Future plans include a possible visitor centre.

Developed through interbreeding of various pony stock brought from Britain, the Newfoundland Pony is indelibly intertwined with the province’s history. For hundreds of years, the affable, resilient animals were used for agriculture, fishing, construction and general transport. With the advent of motor vehicles, the population declined from an estimated high of 13,000 in the 1960s to about 100 two decades later. Currently there are about 400 worldwide. Last July, the society began a program of DNA testing to identify purebred individuals.