Sheep return to graze on Hampstead Heath
On 27 August sheep will return to Hampstead Heath to graze for the first time since the 1950s as part of a week-long trial.
If the pilot is successful, the City Corporation says animal grazing could be expanded to other areas of the Heath.
Grazing is known to play a major role in boosting species-rich wildlife habitats and reducing the use of machinery. Unlike mowing, grazing produces a mosaic of vegetation heights and types, improving ecological sites for species including amphibians, small mammals, invertebrates and wildflowers.
The pilot will be managed by the City of London Corporation in partnership with the Heath & Hampstead Society, Heath Hands, Historic England, Mudchute Park & Farm and Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
The flock of five sheep, provided by Mudchute Park & Farm, are made up of Oxford Down and Norfolk Horn. They will graze at The Tumulus on the Heath, an ancient Roman monument managed by Historic England.
Volunteers from the Heath & Hampstead Society and Heath Hands will support the project by helping to monitor the sheep and engaging with visitors who want to know more about the pilot.
Hampstead Heath is one of London's most popular open spaces, situated just six kilometres from Trafalgar Square. It receives over nine million visits a year. The City of London Corporation, which is a major green spaces provider in the capital, has been the custodian of the site since 1989.
Fencing has been installed at The Tumulus to protect the sheep who will be kept securely at the Heath’s nearby Kenwood Yard overnight.
Karina Dostalova, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Hampstead Heath Management Committee, said:
“The Heath has a long history of sheep grazing with farmers taking their flock to the site before taking them to market in the City.
“Grazing could play a key role in creating new rich and diverse habitats for the wildlife found on the Heath.
“Reintroduction of grazing has been an aspiration for many years, and we are glad to be working with our partners on this exciting opportunity.”
John Beyer, Vice- Chair of the Heath & Hampstead Society, said:
"This idea came up at a Heath and Hampstead Society lecture given by painter Lindy Guinness, who showed paintings by John Constable of cattle grazing on the Heath.
“This romantic vision happily coincided with the aim of Heath staff to experiment with grazing rather than tractors to manage the landscape.
“We are delighted to work with the City Corporation to find more sustainable ways of preserving the Heath".
Hampstead Heath is a registered charity, receiving over £5m of funding from the City Corporation every year, along with revenue generated though services, various grants and donations.
The City Corporation protects and conserves 18 green spaces in London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches - and over 200 smaller ones in the Square Mile. They are funded by over £29million a year from the City Corporation and including important wildlife habitats, sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.
Notes to Editors
About the City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
Carl Locsin, Media Officer, City of London Corporation
T 020 7332 3654 / M 07738 862 229