Sheep to return to Hampstead Heath after 60 year absence

Grazing is known to play a role in boosting habitats and reducing use of machinery
Grazing is known to play a role in boosting habitats and reducing use of machinery

Sheep are returning to Hampstead Heath for the first time in six decades as part of a week-long trial.

A flock of five Oxford Down and Norfolk Horn sheep will be released on Monday (26 August) to maintain the fields in an environmentally-friendly way.

It is hoped the project will cut down on the use of machinery and boost biodiversity.

The small flock will be provided by Mudchute Park and Farm on the Isle of Dogs, East London.



Project volunteers will monitor the sheep, which will be fenced in, and educate visitors about the trial.

Sixty years ago, it was a common sight to see sheep grazing the North London park (Photo: City of London Corporation)
Sixty years ago, it was a common sight to see sheep grazing the North London park (Photo: City of London Corporation)

It is part of a week-long trial by the City of London Corporation, which runs the park.



“Grazing is known to play a major role in boosting species-rich wildlife habitats,” it said.

“Unlike mowing, grazing produces a mosaic of vegetation heights and types, improving ecological sites for species including amphibians, small mammals, invertebrates and wildflowers.”

The North London heath has a long history of sheep grazing, with farmers taking their flock to the site before taking them to market in the City.