From Monday 21 to Sunday 27 August, we're welcoming a herd of woolly visitors to The Green Park for a conservation trial that sees our Mission: Invertebrate project team up with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and Mudchute Farm.
The sheep will graze the wildflower meadows to help the invertebrate community thrive and prevent the rare sheep from becoming extinct. The scheme is part of our Mission: Invertebrate project, which has received £600,000 from the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery to shine a spotlight on the capital’s vital grassland creatures.
Dr Alice Laughton, who leads the Mission: Invertebrate project for The Royal Parks, said:
“We are very excited to be carrying out the first sheep grazing trial in The Royal Parks. By increasing the biodiversity of the park grasslands, we hope to encourage the invertebrates that inhabit meadow grasslands to flourish, and it will help us plan how we manage the parks in the future.
“We’re delighted that People’s Postcode Lottery recognises the important role of invertebrates and that the players are helping us to inspire the UK public.”
Livestock grazing has an important role in wildlife conservation, and is carried out to manage and improve habitats of high nature conservation value. The trial aims to help maintain a variety of plant species and prevent coarse grasses dominating the meadow in The Green Park, which will ultimately encourage a greater variety of pollinators and other meadow-based invertebrates.
Invertebrates are the unsung heroes of the ecosystem and every day millions of tiny creatures work 24/7 to keep our environment flourishing and our food chain moving. With green spaces under increasing pressure, parklands are more valuable to wildlife than ever before.
Rare breed sheep
The rare and native sheep breeds taking part in the trial include Oxford Down, Whitefaced Woodland, Southdown and Manx Loaghtan. These breeds have been selected, as unlike modern commercial breeds that rely on supplementary food from man, they have evolved to thrive on a variety of different plants. They’re able to eat coarse grasses and trample in seed that drops from the wildflowers in the meadow.