Sheep are spearheading a project to boost wildflowers and wildlife on a Denbighshire hillside.
Denbighshire County Council’s Countryside Service has introduced a flock of sheep to Prestatyn Hillside to support the maintenance of the variety of wildflowers and wildlife that gives the site its special character.
The introduction of the animals is part of the ‘Unique Opportunities – Landscape Solutions for North East Wales’ Project and was supported and funded through the Welsh Government Rural Development Scheme and Natural Resource Wales.
Prestatyn Hillside SSSI was one of the project’s 40 potential nature conservation sites, designated for its internationally rare Limestone Grasslands.
The project aims to bring all sites into sustainable management regimes and reduce the need to mechanically manage sites using heavy plant and machinery, with a large focus on using traditional grazing livestock such as cattle, sheep and ponies
Community consultation days were held at the Shed in Prestatyn to talk to members of the local community about the plans for the hillside and Botanical Surveys were also carried out in June 2021 to better understand what was currently on the site and act as a reference marker to monitor and direct future management.
Fencing and water were installed in January 2022 with all materials carried onto site by hand due to limited vehicle access. Kissing gates were also put up to ensure access was not limited along Offas Dyke Path.
Jack Parry, Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty North East Wales Project
Officer, said: “The sheep coming are a hardy breed used to grazing high grounds and are able to survive outside in extreme weather conditions, as long as they are not disturbed they are happy grazing away. By using sheep to graze it allows us the manage the site more sustainably and reduce the need to use machinery on the site.
“Our aim is to support the high number of wildflowers and wildlife on the site. The sheep will help us achieve this by removing the dense rank vegetation and opening up the sward in the autumn/winter which will allow smaller flowering plants to flourish come the summer providing a haven for butterflies and other wildlife.
“The sheep will be on the site for a couple of months and only be grazing in one compartment at a time. During this time access will not be restricted but we will ask that dogs are kept under close control when passing through the compartment with sheep in.”
Cllr Barry Mellor, Lead Member for Environment and Transport, said: “Supporting and improving our local biodiversity is vitally important and a priority of the Council. I am pleased to see such a unique project underway at Prestatyn Hillside and look forward to seeing the benefits flourish at the site.”