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Have you seen the sheep grazing on Hampstead Heath?

Sheep graze on Hampstead Heath as part of a trial in September 2019
Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire

Have ewe herd the news? Sheep have been let loose to graze on Hampstead Heath for the first time since the 1950s. 

A five-strong flock of Norfolk Horn and Oxford Down sheep has been set loose to roam around Boudicca’s Mound – a bronze-age archaeological site near Parliament Hill – until Tuesday. Originally hailing from Mudchute Park and Farm, these sheep aren’t here to take a dip at the Ladies’ Pond: they’re visiting the Heath as part of a week-long pilot. The plan is to utilise them as woolly lawnmowers, removing the need to maintain the area with tractors and other machinery.

Looking after land with grazing animals is a tradition that goes back for centuries. The Rare Breed Survival Trust and the City of London Corporation, who are running the scheme, hope that the sheep’s non-uniform nibbling will result in a more eco-friendly natural habitat for all the other wildlife that lives on the Heath, and increase the north London parkland’s biodiversity.

If the trial scheme goes to plan, animal grazing might be introduced in other parts of the Heath, too. Baaa-rilliant!

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