Six sheep (and a goat) who are saving nature

Sheep looking at visitors in Dinefwr Park, Carmarthenshire, Wales

Meet the sheep helping to look after nature at the places we care for.

By grazing our grasslands, sheep and other farm animals help encourage wild flowers and the wildlife that rely on them. 

Sheep help conserve the land at Hatfield Forest, Essex

1. Mr Friendly, Hatfield Forest

Mr Friendly, aged 3, is a member of shepherd Ian Pease’s flock of Hebridean and Manx Logothan sheep in Hatfield Forest, Essex. They keep the wood pasture free of scrub. This helps protect the nationally rare fungi and 11 species of bat that live there.

Sheep at Formby help protect bats and fungi

2. Arnie, Formby

Arnie is a stocky Borrowdale-Hebridean cross, named after the Hollywood actor. When he’s not getting into scraps like his namesake, he and his Lancashire Wildlife Trust flock graze the old asparagus fields at Formby on the Merseyside coast. Their work ensures that plants like Yarrow and Birds Foot Trefoil can thrive at Formby.

Tough Welsh Mountain Sheep are being trained to protect nature

3. Welsh mountain sheep, Snowdonia

Welsh mountain sheep like this one are being trained to help create flower rich mountain tops in Snowdonia with a grazed valley bottom. Their two shepherds are teaching Hafod Y Llan’s two thousand sheep to avoid certain areas so that wildflowers and heather can thrive.

Audrey and the other Jacob sheep at work on the grass

4. Audrey, Arlington Court

Audrey, aged 12, is one of the oldest ewes in a brown spotted flock of Jacob Sheep at Arlington Court in Devon. She and her flock mates are winning a hard fought battle against encroaching brambles on the estate’s acidic grasslands and parkland.

Llyen ewes like this one graze the South Downs

5. Lleyn ewes, South Downs

Lleyn ewes, at Saddlescombe Farm in the South Downs are keeping the grassland in top condition for butterflies. Grazing the rolling chalk hill landscape is a full time job – but ensures that butterflies like the Adonis blue and the Silver spotted skipper can flourish.

Mrs Heb's work helps orchids grow at Calke Abbey

6. Mrs Heb, Calke Abbey

Mrs Heb is one of the Hebridean flock at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. The rangers were delighted last year when the fifteen-strong flock grazed the limestone grassland so effectively that five thousand orchids grew, including the sweet-smelling fragrant orchid.

These goats are helping Adonis Blue butterflies thrive

7. Old English Feral Goat, Isle of Wight

Old English Feral Goats at Ventnor Downs are helping Adonis blue butterflies thrive. The herd of 37 goats help control the Holme oak trees that eat up the flower-rich chalk grassland which is home to butterflies and other insects

Why do these sheep matter?

We’ve all heard that nature is in trouble. 60% of native species have declined in the last fifty years. Climate change, development and industrial-scale farming are blamed. These sheep show how farmers and conservationists can combine livestock farming and nature conservation. Ian Pease, Shepherd at Hatfield Forest, explains: 'These flocks help maintain historic pasture – a habitat that’s fast disappearing. The grazing these sheep do is protecting wildlife now and for the future.'